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Pirates notebook: Brewers series could determine team's trade deadline path

Rob Biertempfel
| Sunday, July 16, 2017, 5:42 p.m.
Pirates general manager Neal Huntington talks with team owner Bob Nutting before a game against the Giants at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates general manager Neal Huntington talks with team owner Bob Nutting before a game against the Giants at PNC Park.
Pirates second baseman Adam Frazier celebrates his walk-off hit with David Freese in the bottom of the ninth inning against the Cardinals Sunday, July 16, 2017, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates second baseman Adam Frazier celebrates his walk-off hit with David Freese in the bottom of the ninth inning against the Cardinals Sunday, July 16, 2017, at PNC Park.

A sweep either way this week against the Milwaukee Brewers would impact which path the Pirates take at the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline.

What if the Pirates merely split the four-game series against the NL Central leaders? General manager Neal Huntington refused to tip his hand.

"We don't want to undersell (or) oversell what this four-game series with the Brewers means," Huntington said Sunday. "Obviously, an 0-4 (outcome) changes the dynamic pretty significantly. We go 4-0, it changes the dynamic in a much more positive direction."

After Sunday's game against the St. Louis Cardinals, the Pirates were in fourth place in the division and trailed the Brewers by seven games. After this week's series at PNC Park, the teams will face each other eight times over August and September.

"We still need to be realistic about our evaluation of this club, about our opportunities moving forward, about roles where we can get better, where are some of our flaws that we're still going to be challenged by, what are our chances," Huntington said. "We recognize the division's different than the second wild card. We also recognize that we've gone 17-13 in our last 30 games and have lost two games (in the standings), so that means the club we're chasing is still playing very well."

Harrison gets day off

Josh Harrison is trying to bust out of a batting slump with upbeat thoughts, video snippets and advice from manager Clint Hurdle about the Tao of hitting.

After batting .297 in June, Harrison is just 5 for 42 (.119) in July. After he went 0 for 4 and stranded five baserunners Saturday, Harrison was held out of the starting lineup Sunday. Harrison did pinch-run for Francisco Cervilli in the ninth inning and scored the tying run on Jordy Mercer's double.

Before he left PNC Park late Saturday night, Harrison loaded lots of video of successful at-bats onto his tablet. The video study was followed by work in the batting cage.

Welcome back, Marte

On the eve of his return from an 80-game suspension, outfielder Starling Marte will be restricted in what he can do Monday at PNC Park.

"He can't be in uniform, and he can't be in the dugout or bullpen," Huntington said. "He can be here, and he can work out. He just can't be in uniform with the club when we're in our normal workout."

Marte, who was suspended after flunking a blood test for steroids, will meet with his teammates and hold a pregame news conference Monday. He will be back in action for Tuesday's game against the Brewers.

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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