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Pirates willing to break slot amount for Appel

| Sunday, June 10, 2012, 6:16 p.m.

The Pirates are set to sign their second-round pick, catcher Wyatt Mathisen, for $746,300, which matches the assigned slot value.

But general manager Neal Huntington said he isn't looking at the $2.9 million slot amount for the Pirates' first-round choice, right-hander Mark Appel, as an unbreakable limit.

“It's a jumping-off point,” Huntington said Sunday.

“It is not a set, steadfast number.”

If they don't sign Appel by the July 13 deadline, the Bucs will get a compensation pick in the first round next year.

Senior moments

The Pirates took college seniors, who have less negotiating leverage, with their seventh-, ninth- and 10th-round picks.

“We've also selected some high school players whose signability might change after the draft compared to before the draft,” Huntington said. “We've created the money to use, and we'll see how it plays out.”

Huntington noted that some clubs, uncertain about the new draft rules and spending limits, went heavy with college seniors among their top 10 picks.

“Each club has it's own perspective,” Huntington said. “We're going to study the results after the trade deadline and see what we can learn from it, how we can best find the soft spots in the process. The same is going to go for the advisers. I think they're going to learn that in some cases, players bluff themselves out of being drafted at a position where they could be signed.”

Clement's future

The Pirates will decide today whether to promote hot-hitting Jeff Clement from Triple-A Indianapolis to be a designated hitter this week against Orioles and Indians.

“We're open to maybe running somebody in (from the minors), but we don't feel like it's an absolute have-to at this time,” Huntington said.

Clement is batting .301 with seven homers.

Grossman's absence

Huntington said outfield prospect Robbie Grossman “missed about the last week of games due to an issue internally” but didn't elaborate. Grossman is batting .217 in 54 games with Double-A Altoona.

Injury update

The rehab for right-handed pitcher Jeff Karstens' sore shoulder will be halted for about a week because of a hip flexor strain. Because of the new injury, Karstens' 30-day rehab clock can be reset.

“We're not expecting to use the full rehab (limit) for Jeff coming off the hip flexor because the shoulder was so close,” Huntington said. “We're hoping it's just a few days.”

Reliever Chris Leroux (strained pectoral) began his rehab assignment with Indy.

Winning!

Although he wasn't in the game when the winning run scored, reliever Jared Hughes was awarded the win Saturday.

In a situation where the starter doesn't qualify for the victory (James McDonald lasted just four innings), the official scorer may use his discretion to award the win to which reliever pitches the most effectively.

Clearly, that was Hughes. He tossed 2 13 scoreless innings and allowed one hit. Chris Resop, who was the first reliever to pitch after the Bucs took the lead for good, gave up three hits in one inning, Doug Slaten got two outs.

Brief respite

The Pirates are off today, then embark on a six-day road trip to Baltimore and Cleveland. The just-completed set against the Royals was a three-day breather in Pittsburgh in between two multi-city road swings.

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or 412-320-7811.

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