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Pirates

Austin Meadows again out of Pirates' lineup, Jordan Luplow in

Chris Adamski
| Thursday, July 12, 2018, 6:24 p.m.
Pirates right fielder Austin Meadows flies out during the seventh inning against the Diamondbacks Saturday, June 23, 2018, at PNC Park. Meadows batted in the lead-off position.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates right fielder Austin Meadows flies out during the seventh inning against the Diamondbacks Saturday, June 23, 2018, at PNC Park. Meadows batted in the lead-off position.

For the fourth consecutive game and sixth time over seven games this homestand, Austin Meadows was not in the Pirates’ lineup Thursday.

Manager Clint Hurdle asserted Meadows is healthy and pointed to recent ugly offensive numbers for the 23-year-old outfielder.

“The offensive numbers have dropped off, both (against) right- and lefthanded pitching,” Hurdle said prior to Thursday’s series-opener against the Milwaukee Brewers. “And we are getting to a spot where he needs to play, so that’s why we are taking a look at Jordan (Luplow) and seeing what maybe he can provide and see what direction we’re going to need to continue to hunt, (when an) extra outfielder (is needed).

“The league has kind of punched back (on Meadows), and I think there’s one mechanical thing we can help him with that he’s not doing that he was doing earlier, that’s kind of hindering some things.”

Despite not being called up until May was more than half over, Meadows was named the National League’s rookie of the month . His OPS was over 1.000 as late as June 11 – 22 games into his MLB career.

But in the 23 games since, Meadows has a .585 OPS with just three extra-base hits (all doubles) and 22 strikeouts in 76 plate appearances. A lefthanded hitter, his season OPS against righties is down to .744.

Is it time to consider a demotion back to Triple-A?

“We will have those discussions internally as we talk about what’s best for the player and best for the team,” Hurdle said. “And try and figure things out here.”

Mirroring an industry trend, the Pirates have had a tendency to delay calling up top prospects until the second week of June in subtle effort to save money down the road by avoiding so-called “Super 2” arbitration status two years later.

Meadows’ May call-up was necessitated by an injury to Starling Marte; he was too good to be sent back down after Marte returned . If he’s optioned to Triple-A for about a three-week span, Meadows’ contract should be safe from “Super 2” status.

The Trade deadline is July 31.

Luplow is not nearly as highly as regarded a prospect. He entered Thursday 1 for 6 in the majors this season after having a .205 average in 27 games for the Pirates last season, though he does have an .885 OPS in 121 career Triple-A games over 2017-18.

Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris at cadamski@tribweb.com or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.

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