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Bucs' Hurdle looks for opportunities for Paul

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Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Saturday, June 4, 2011
 

Manager Clint Hurdle is trying to find ways to get outfielder Xavier Paul into the lineup.

"I would really like to make sure that while we have Xavier, I can get a good read on him," Hurdle said. "I'm not so sure he can't fit a need here, and not just as a utility player."

Going into Friday night's game, Paul had six hits in his past seven at-bats. On Thursday, he collected a career-best four hits, scored three runs and stole two bases.

» The Pirates left the NL East in 1994, when MLB realigned and created the NL Central. As a result, the Phillies, who had a fierce rivalry with the Pirates in the 1970s and '80s, usually come to PNC Park just once a season these days.

"I grew up with the Pirates in the East," Hurdle said. "Common sense says we're geographically located in the East. I can understand maybe why we moved, but if I had a vote, I'd vote for us to be back in the East."

» Until Thursday, Pirates starting pitchers had gone 13 straight games without allowing more than two earned runs. Left-hander Paul Maholm broke the string by giving up six earned runs in 5.2 innings against the New York Mets. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the longest stretch in the majors this year and the Pirates' longest run since Sept. 13-27, 1968.

» After reaching a high of .280 on May 2, Garrett Jones' batting average plunged more than 70 points by the end of the month.

"It was a very hard May for Garrett," Hurdle said, adding that Jones is not counter-punching well enough as pitchers learn his tendencies. "Until that gets figured out, the beat is going to go on because they're not going to change what they're doing. He has to throw a different look at them, get outside his comfort zone and hit some pitches that he's been taking for strikes. It's a challenge. In his case, at the age of 29, it's time. He needs to throw down something here."

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