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Alvarez held out of starting lineup for 3rd straight game

| Saturday, July 26, 2014, 7:36 p.m.
Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez (front center) sits in the dugout during a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday, July 23, 2014, at PNC Park. Alvarez, who is hitting .186 against left-handers this season, was not in the starting lineup Saturday against Colorado Rockies lefty Tyler Matzek.

DENVER — Third baseman Pedro Alvarez was not in the starting lineup for a third straight game Saturday and he has not started in the Pirates' last three games against left-handed pitchers.

While Alvarez left Tuesday's game with a minor knee injury, he was healthy enough to enter play Friday night as a pinch hitter and remain in the game defensively.

Alvarez did not start Friday against Rockies left-hander Brett Anderson. He also was not in the lineup against left-hander Tyler Matzek on Saturday, and before his injury, he was held out of the lineup against Dodgers left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu.

Earlier this month, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said Alvarez would not become a pure platoon player despite his continued struggles against left-handed pitching and the emergence of Josh Harrison.

Hurdle was asked Saturday if held the same position.

“Right now we are just trying to get him healthy,” Hurdle said when asked if Alvarez could become a platoon player. “I don't have a crystal ball. If you have one, let me borrow it. It would make my life easier. You look at every individual player. You want to do the best you can to get them in situations where they have success. You also have to weigh that against what's best for the team and put your best nine on the field. That's what we continually look at internally day after day.”

Alvarez is hitting .186 against left-handers this season and is a .198 hitter against southpaws for his career. Before the injury, Hurdle also pinch-hit for Alvarez late in games against situational left-handed pitchers.

“Where (Alvarez) is right now, with the health concerns, I think he's getting closer to be healthy. We'll see where it can take us once we get to San Francisco,” Hurdle said. “He played in 93 of the first 95 games, so I don't think a platoon situation existed then. There were opportunities to miss lefties along the way. He didn't miss many out of the bullpen. See where it takes us moving forward.”

Brent Morel started at third on Saturday and batted eighth.

Cole takes two

Gerrit Cole (lat strain) is scheduled to make an 80-pitch rehab outing for Triple-A Indianapolis on Monday, and Hurdle said it is likely Cole will make a second rehab start before rejoining the major league rotation.

The Pirates want Cole to throw 100 pitches in a game before returning. If Cole makes a second rehab start, it would put him in line to return Aug. 7 vs. the Marlins or Aug. 8 vs. the Padres at PNC Park. It might mean nothing, but Cole's rehab start is lined up with Vance Worley's turn in the rotation.

More port-side woes

Alvarez is not the only Pirates left-handed hitter struggling against southpaws.

Gregory Polanco hit seventh Saturday, dropped from the lead-off spot because of his struggles.

Polanco hit left-handers well as a minor-leaguer but was hitting .125 against lefties in his first 48 major league at-bats against them entering Saturday.

Pepper games

Russell Martin returned to the starting lineup Saturday after being removed late from Friday's game because the score, … Travis Snider has a tweaked hamstring but was available off the bench.

Travis Sawchik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at tsawchik@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Sawchik_Trib.

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