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Patience pays for Pirates outfielder Presley

| Wednesday, June 29, 2011

TORONTO — As he put up big numbers at Triple-A Indianapolis this season, it was not difficult for outfielder Alex Presley to ignore the chatter about the Pirates possibly calling him up to the major leagues.

"I didn't get online and read anything," Presley said. "I wasn't on Twitter or anything like that. I don't see a lot of that stuff, so it was pretty easy for me to just keep playing."

Still, Presley had to figure something was bound to happen. His .336 batting average is third-best in the International League. He also ranks second in hits, total bases and triples, and is tied for third with 18 stolen bases.

Before the Pirates' interleague series in Cleveland two weeks ago, manager Clint Hurdle lobbied for Presley to get called up.

"There were no guarantees, so I kept playing as if I was going to stay down," Presley said.

He kept hitting, but management opted to keep him in the minors. The Pirates scored a total of four runs, and the Indians swept the three-game set.

Presley admitted the tease was a little frustrating.

"Yeah, to some degree," he said. "But I was happy that I was playing well, regardless of where I was. If I was having a tough year, I'd be in a lot worse spot."

Presley finally got the call Monday. He started Tuesday night, batted leadoff against the Toronto Blue Jays and belted a two-run homer in the third inning.

Presley figures to be the everyday left fielder for at least the next dozen games. Jose Tabata (strained left quad) yesterday went on the disabled list and is not expected back until after the All-Star break.

"Alex needs to play," Hurdle said. "It's going to be a very good opportunity for him to put together a nice volume of at-bats and see where he can take it."

Presley was one of the first players on the 40-man roster who was cut from spring training camp. The Pirates knew he could hit but needed to see more out of him on the basepaths.

At Indianapolis, Presley ran more often. But he said the key was running more aggressively.

"It was never a matter of speed," Presley said. "It was a matter of getting leads and going. It was more of a mental thing for me to just go because it's not a good feeling getting thrown out.

"Before, I could find a way to talk myself out of stealing, like, 'Maybe I shouldn't run here.' But this year's been totally different. I knew it's one of the things I had to do to get back. I made it a priority."

Big-league debut

Seven players have made their debuts this season with the Pirates:

Player (position) Note

Josh Rodriguez (INF) Rule 5 pickup was reacquired last week

Chase d'Arnaud (INF) Will get lots of time this week at 3B

Josh Harrison (INF) Was recalled Wednesday from Triple-A

Tony Watson (LHP) Was scored upon once in first 10 outings

Daniel Moskos (LHP) Notched first ML win June 4 vs. Philly

Mike Crotta (RHP) Came off DL Monday and was sent to minors

Eric Fryer (C) Made rapid rise after starting year at Double-A

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