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Alvarez proves to be polarizing slugger

PITTSBURGH -- It was a typical game of extremes for Pedro Alvarez. The National League's home run leader thrilled PNC Park fans Tuesday night with his legs instead, bolting out a game-tying RBI triple in the third inning. But in the eighth inning, with a chance to break the 3-3 tie with the Marlins, he took a called third strike with the bases loaded.

It's such swings of fortune, Clint Hurdle said, that make Alvarez one of the Majors' current bona fide sluggers. The operative word being "current."

"These sluggers do tend to be very polarizing. When they hit that ball, everyone loves that 450-foot home run," Hurdle said. "It electrifies people. When they don't do it, when they see them take a strike three with the bases loaded, that just electrocutes people. They go, 'How can he do that to us?'"

Hitters with Alvarez's style have come before -- Reggie Jackson was the prototype, and Hurdle could recall playing in Kansas City with someone from the same mold, Willie Mays Aikens.

The Pirates manager thinks resilience does make his third baseman unique.

"I love Pedro's style," Hurdle said. "He's very self-confident. He understands failure and how to deal with it. He believes in himself. If it doesn't happen one time, he believes he'll make it happen next time. His resiliency is one thing I've enjoyed watching."

Tom Singer is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer.
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