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Pirates notebook: Bucs unlikely to make trade before deadline

| Sunday, Aug. 31, 2014, 4:00 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Trib Total Media
Pirates general manager Neal Huntington watches batting practice before a game against the Cincinnati Reds on Friday, Aug. 29, 2014, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Trib Total Media
The Pirates' Gregory Polanco doubles against the Padres on Friday, Aug. 8, 2014, at PNC Park. Even though Polanco was not on the Pirates' active roster Sunday, he still will be eligible to play in the postseason.

When the clock strikes midnight Aug. 31, it marks the deadline for clubs to add a player from outside the organization and have that player be eligible for the postseason.

Last year, the Pirates acquired Marlon Byrd on Aug. 28 and Justin Morneau on Aug. 31 via trades to bolster their roster before the deadline. This season, making a waiver trade has been more difficult as Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said many teams have been aggressively making claims.

Huntington does not expect the Pirates to make a trade before the deadline.

“There are not a lot of players that we feel are significant additions for us that have cleared waivers or that have gotten to us on a waiver-claim situation” Huntington said. “There hasn't been a lack of effort or interest, but there is nothing imminent at this point.”

“It's been a lower percentage of successful claims this year than ever, meaning guys are getting claimed before us.”

In previous years, players had to be on the 25-man roster or the disabled, paternity, bereavement or suspended lists to be eligible for the postseason. But this year, there is a rule change where any player on the 40-man roster Aug. 31 is eligible for placement on the postseason roster. And any player in the entire organization as of Aug. 31 can be a replacement for an injured player.

This means Gerrit Cole, Gregory Polanco and Jeff Locke are all postseason eligible even though they were not on the 25-man roster Sunday.

Pirates (mostly) mum on call-ups

While Huntington noted Polanco and Locke will be called up when rosters expand in September, Huntington was not willing to reveal the club's other plans for September roster expansion.

“There are guys you are probably thinking will be on that list that are not,” Huntington said. “There will be some surprises that leave people scratching their heads.”

The Pirates will be selective when choosing call-ups.

“You can have too many,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “It has to be a workable number.”

Daunting schedule

The Pirates play just nine home games and 17 road games in September. In a tight postseason race, that could be a significant problem.

The Pirates are 44-28 at home and 27-37 on the road.

Home-field advantage was studied by University of Chicago economist Tobias Moskowitz and Sports Illustrated writer L. Jon Wertheim in their book, “Scorecasting.” They found home-field advantage is tied predominately to umpire bias, examining millions of pitches tracked by QuesTec and PitchFx — computerized systems that track pitch location and velocity.

“In baseball, it turns out that the most significant difference between home and away teams is that the home teams strike out less and walk more — a lot more — per plate appearance than road teams,” they wrote.

Tabata a problem?

Huntington was asked Sunday if Jose Tabata was sent to Triple-A earlier this season because he was viewed a poor influence on Pirates' young Latin players, such as Gregory Polanco and Starling Marte.

Huntington said he also was asked this at a recent meeting with season-ticket holders.

“I told them it was news to me,” Huntington said. “We had not heard that or experienced that. That's not the reason Jose Tabata was sent out. We felt Travis Snider was a better fit.”

Injury updates

Pirates pitcher Charlie Morton (sports hernia) will throw a simulated game in St. Louis. Morton hopes to avoid surgery, but it's unclear if he will pitch again this season.

“It's an opportunity to keep him in play and see if there might be some improvement,” Hurdle said.

Hurdle said Pedro Alvarez has begun hitting off a tee. As for Travis Snider (hamstring), Hurdle said Saturday “was a better day for him.”

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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