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Pirates notebook: Wright glad to have Alvarez on Derby squad

Rob Biertempfel
| Friday, July 12, 2013, 8:06 p.m.
Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez shakes hands with Mets third baseman David Wright before their game Friday, July 12, 2013, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez shakes hands with Mets third baseman David Wright before their game Friday, July 12, 2013, at PNC Park.

The message Pedro Alvarez sent Friday was louder and clearer than all the boos aimed by Pirates fans at New York Mets third baseman David Wright.

Folks were upset that Wright, the National League captain, bypassed Alvarez for the All-Star Home Run Derby squad. Wright was jeered during pregame introductions and each time he came to bat.

Wright was not spared even though Alvarez was added to the Derby roster Thursday when Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez withdrew because of a finger injury.

The boos turned to cheers in the bottom of the first inning when Alvarez mashed a two-run homer to center field. Before the game, Wright said he was happy to put Alvarez in the Derby.

“I made a list, and Pedro was right up there,” Wright said.

“As soon as Carlos said he couldn't do it physically, it was a pretty simple choice. I thought Pedro was very deserving from the start. I just ran out of spots.”

Gonzalez leads the NL with 25 home runs. Wright also chose Bryce Harper (a top fan vote-getter) and Michael Cuddyer (a close friend). Alvarez's 24 homers are second most in the league.

“I'd love to appease everybody, but it there just aren't enough spots,” Wright said. “I was almost hoping that some of my original picks would say no so I could at least move on to some of the other ones to include as many people as I could. No matter what you do, somebody — some city — will be unhappy.”

Wright sent a text Thursday asking Alvarez to join the Derby and got a quick reply.

“I'm ready to have fun,” Alvarez said. “It's going to be a neat experience. I'll have some high school friends and some family there.”

The Derby and All-Star Game will be held at Citi Field, not far from where Alvarez grew up in the Bronx.

“After talking with him, I knew how excited he was and how much he wants to do this,” Wright said. “I'm glad he was next in line for me to ask. Twenty-four homers doesn't hurt either. And with him being from New York, it was an excellent choice.”

Serve 'em up

Players can choose their pitcher for the Home Run Derby. Alvarez chose Rudy Pena, a former coach with High-A Hickory (2008), the Gulf Coast League Pirates (2009-11) and High-A Bradenton (2012). Pena is the nephew of former Pirates catcher Tony Pena.

At the 2012 Derby, Andrew McCutchen had Jon Spradlin, his coach from Fort Meade (Fla.) High School, pitch to him.

Canzler acquired

The Pirates got first baseman/right fielder Russ Canzler from the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for right-hander Tim Alderson.

Canzler, 27, was assigned to Triple-A Indianapolis. To make room for Canzler on the 40-man roster, righty James McDonald (shoulder discomfort) was transferred from the 15- to the 60-day disabled list.

Canzler batted .276 with 15 doubles, 11 homers and 49 RBI in 86 games this season with Triple-A Norfolk. He made 35 appearances at first base, 14 in the outfield, four at third base and one at second base.

“We're going to try to get him in some right field and third base opportunities to see how versatile he can be and see how the bat plays,” Hurdle said.

The deal closes the book on the Freddy Sanchez trade, which will go down as one of the bigger flops in franchise history.

On trade deadline day in 2009, the Pirates dealt Sanchez, a three-time All-Star second baseman, to San Francisco for Alderson.

The trade saved the Pirates from paying Sanchez $8.1 million option in 2010.

Sanchez hit .290 in 196 games for the Giants and got a World Series ring in 2010. Alderson, a 2007 first-round pick, hasn't reached the majors and spent most of his time in the Pirates' system with Double-A Altoona.

Rotation may change

Hurdle indicated there will be “a small shuffling” of the starting rotation after the All-Star break.

“We've got some ideas penciled in,” Hurdle said. “There's importance to not having too many gaps if you don't have to. We're playing the Reds coming out (of the break), and that will be part of the puzzle.”

Cincinnati has a slightly better team batting average (.250 to .249) and OPS (.729 to .715) against left-handed pitchers than against righties. But three of the Reds' top hitters — Jay Bruce, Joey Votto and Shin-Soo Choo — bat lefty.

All-Star availability

Hurdle was asked if he's spoken with NL manager Bruce Bochy about how to use Pirates pitchers in the All-Star game. “(Jason) Grilli will be available,” Hurdle said. “We're still working through (Jeff) Locke's situation.”

Management can urge Locke not to pitch in the All-Star Game, but they cannot prevent him from making an appearance.

Locke will start Sunday's first-half finale, which in previous years would have ruled him out for the All-Star Game two days later because of the injury risk. However, the revised collective bargaining agreement allows all pitchers to be available for at least one inning in the All-Star Game if they choose.

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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