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TSBURGH -- The Pirates' Marte Moment has arrived.
Starling Marte, the exciting young outfielder whose Triple-A progress has been intently and impatiently followed by the team's fans, will join the club Thursday night when it opens a four-game series in Houston.
The Pirates announced Wednesday night they are recalling Marte -- Pittsburgh's No. 3 prospect, according to MLB.com -- from Indianapolis, and expect to activate him in time for the series opener against the Astros. In a prerequisite move, right-handed reliever Evan Meek has been optioned back to the Triple-A Indians.
Marte, 23, has had a hot-and-mild first Triple-A season, which Pirates brass actually welcomed because it gave the club a chance to see how he dealt with adversity and with pitchers' adjustments. Overall, Marte was hitting .286, with an intriguing mix of extra-base hits: 21 doubles, 13 triples and 12 home runs.
Marte has been closely watched, and anticipated, ever since he entered Spring Training as one of the Pirates' top prospects, and he promptly went 13-for-25 (.520) with three homers in 12 Grapefruit League games.
Asked on Sunday about Marte's timetable, Pirates general manager Neal Huntington had said, "Two [hot] months doesn't mean a player is locked in and has the Minor Leagues figured out.
"He's gone through a rough patch, which is great for him. He had been on a great roll, so now it will be interesting to see how he responds."
Since experiencing a 2-for-18 slide, Marte has gone 8-for-19 in his last four games.
As manager Clint Hurdle had stated earlier, Huntington reiterated that the Pirates would have no misgivings about having the young outfielder make his Major League debut in the midst of a pennant race.
"When he's ready to contribute, we'll add him," Huntington said.
The decision on Marte was made the day after the Pirates acquired left-handed starter Wandy Rodriguez in a trade with Houston. Rodriguez became the first native of the Dominican Republic in the clubhouse, a fact that was perceived as eventually easing countryman Marte's big league transition.