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Pirates notebook: Holt makes debut as starter

| Sunday, Sept. 2, 2012, 4:40 p.m.

MILWAUKEE — Manager Clint Hurdle did not hesitate to put rookie Brock Holt into the starting lineup. Sunday, one day after being called up from Triple-A Indianapolis, Holt batted leadoff against the Milwaukee Brewers. “I've always tried to get players who come up in a game sooner than later,” Hurdle said. “I don't do it as a novelty.”

In 2008, when Hurdle managed in Colorado, the Rockies called up infielder Doug Bernier. Not long after posting the lineup, which included Bernier, Hurdle got a call from someone in the front office. “They said, ‘What are you doing?' I said, everybody told me what a great player he is,” Hurdle recalled with a laugh. “They said, ‘Yeah, but ... already?' It was that type of thing.”

Holt made his first plate appearance Saturday, when drew a four-pitch walk and eventually scored a game-tying run. “I was a little nervous in the dugout, waiting,” Holt said. “I didn't know when I was going in, but I knew I had a chance to pinch-hit. It's a pretty exciting time, a lot of fun.”

Holt hit .432 at Indy and is known for having a keen batting eye. But that's not exactly why he walked. “He was taking from the start, so don't read too much into it,” Hurdle said. “I know his ability to work at-bats and see pitches is one of his strengths, but (Saturday) was a different situation.”

• Reliever Chad Qualls (toe irritation) has begun a rehab assignment at Triple-A Indianapolis.

• OF Starling Marte (strained oblique) has taken batting practice and shagged fly balls in the outfield. Tuesday, he'll try running the bases, which is how he sustained the injury on Aug. 18. “If all goes well, we'll look to possibly move him out on Wednesday for rehab,” Hurdle said.

• It's been 17 days since Joel Hanrahan recorded a save, and he got only three opportunities in August. Some managers, such as Detroit's Jim Leyland, refuse to use their closer for anything but a save chance. Hurdle keeps his options open, trying to keep Hanrahan sharp. “That's been one of our bigger challenges,” Hurdle said. “Joel has the closer mentality, but he understands he needs to pitch. We've got to do everything we can to keep our best bullpen pitcher involved in the action.”

• The Houston Astros, who Monday open a three-game set at PNC Park, have used 10 rookies this season. With an average age of 26.0, the Astros have the youngest active roster in the majors. Twenty-three players on Houston's roster are under 30.

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