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Meadows sits for Bucs, 'working on some things'

Outfielder out of lineup for 6 of 7 games; Luplow in vs. lefty Miley
MLB.com @adamdberry

PITTSBURGH -- When the Pirates called up Austin Meadows, they made it clear their top outfield prospect would play. After he thrived during his first few weeks in the Majors, they created a four-man outfield rotation to accommodate him along with Corey Dickerson, Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco.

But Meadows was out of the starting lineup on Thursday for the sixth time in seven games. Jordan Luplow, recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis just last week, made his second straight start, against Brewers left-hander Wade Miley and in right field. Meadows has struggled lately, batting .254 with a .585 OPS over his last 23 games, but he is healthy.

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PITTSBURGH -- When the Pirates called up Austin Meadows, they made it clear their top outfield prospect would play. After he thrived during his first few weeks in the Majors, they created a four-man outfield rotation to accommodate him along with Corey Dickerson, Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco.

But Meadows was out of the starting lineup on Thursday for the sixth time in seven games. Jordan Luplow, recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis just last week, made his second straight start, against Brewers left-hander Wade Miley and in right field. Meadows has struggled lately, batting .254 with a .585 OPS over his last 23 games, but he is healthy.

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What is the Pirates' plan for Meadows? Why are they working a fifth outfielder into the rotation?

"He's working on some things," manager Clint Hurdle said. "The offensive numbers have dropped off, [against] both right- and left-handed pitching. And we are getting to a spot where he needs to play, so that's why we are taking a look at Jordan and seeing what, maybe, he can provide and see what direction we're going to need to continue to hunt as that extra outfielder comes up."

It's possible the Bucs could send Meadows back to Triple-A to get regular playing time and roll with Luplow as their fourth outfielder. Hurdle said the Pirates will discuss it, considering what's best for Meadows and the team as a whole. Before this seven-game stretch, Meadows started in 11 of the Pirates' previous 13 games.

Unsurprisingly, Meadows would prefer to remain in Pittsburgh rather than play every day at Triple-A.

"Obviously, your goal is to play every day and help the team win," said Meadows, 23. "If I'm not starting, if I'm still getting into the games, that's OK with me. Obviously, I'd rather be here than Triple-A. I think anybody would say that."

Hurdle said there was "one mechanical thing" the Pirates are working on with Meadows, who is still batting .302 with an .817 OPS overall thanks to his hot start. Meadows said he hasn't changed anything in his routine, going about his normal work with hitting coach Jeff Branson and outfield coach Kimera Bartee.

"It's tough obviously when you're not playing, but all you can do is just stick to your routine and be consistent," Meadows said. "It's really out of my hands, can't question anything. Just try to help the team, and if I'm not going to be starting, trying to get [the work] in and be prepared for that."

Luplow's two starts have come against left-handers. He hit .267/.409/.493 against lefties in Triple-A this season. Meadows has hit left-handers well in the Majors, batting .302/.362/.585 with three homers off lefties in the small sample size of 58 plate appearances.

The Pirates called up Meadows on May 18, earlier than they typically promote their top prospects. If he spends the rest of the season in Pittsburgh, it's possible he will accrue enough service time to qualify for Super Two designation.

Around the horn
Sean Rodriguez had his rehab assignment transferred from Class A Advanced Bradenton to Indianapolis, which returned from its Triple-A All-Star break on Thursday. Rodriguez was batting second and starting at shortstop.

• Hurdle said catcher Francisco Cervelli has been working out at first base "to get him a chance to stay in the lineup and not have to catch five, six days a week to stay in the lineup," drawing a comparison to the way the Giants use Buster Posey.

• Right-hander Trevor Williams, who pitched on Wednesday and won't start again before the All-Star break, could be available out of the bullpen this weekend.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Austin Meadows