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Struggling Marte to be given a few days off

Kingham called up, Osuna optioned; Pirates announce several amateur signings
MLB.com @adamdberry

LOS ANGELES -- The Pirates are giving slumping center fielder Starling Marte a few days off.

Marte did not start Sunday's series finale in San Diego, wasn't in the lineup for Monday's game against left-hander Alex Wood at Dodger Stadium and likely won't start against Clayton Kershaw on Tuesday. Manager Clint Hurdle said the coaching staff set up a plan for Marte's "work days" to help him get back on track.

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LOS ANGELES -- The Pirates are giving slumping center fielder Starling Marte a few days off.

Marte did not start Sunday's series finale in San Diego, wasn't in the lineup for Monday's game against left-hander Alex Wood at Dodger Stadium and likely won't start against Clayton Kershaw on Tuesday. Manager Clint Hurdle said the coaching staff set up a plan for Marte's "work days" to help him get back on track.

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"We've gone ahead and drawn up a plan to be specific with it, intentional with it, to get some work done," Hurdle said. "I just felt it [is] an appropriate time to back away. There's been a lot of swing and miss, a lot of chase lately. We need to identify a different way to punch back."

Marte is healthy and available off the bench. After a strong start to the season, the former All-Star hit just .183/.235/.312 with 23 strikeouts in 102 plate appearances last month. He has also inexplicably struggled against left-handed pitchers over the past two seasons, batting .167 -- well below his career .273 average.

Video: MIL@PIT: Marte launches a solo homer in the 8th

Marte could return to the lineup on Wednesday or Friday. The Pirates benched Andrew McCutchen in a similar way the past two years, giving him time to work his way out of slumps without the pressure of having to play.

Austin Meadows started in center field and hit leadoff on Monday. Gregory Polanco, the Pirates' best hitter over the last month, moved up to the No. 3 spot in the order after spending most of June batting seventh.

Roster moves
To make room for right-hander Nick Kingham's return to the rotation, the Pirates optioned infielder/outfielder Jose Osuna to Triple-A Indianapolis on Monday. Osuna is hitting .196/.213/.370 with two home runs in 23 games for Pittsburgh this season.

Without Osuna, the Pirates are back to carrying a four-man bench. Hurdle said they preferred to keep an eight-man bullpen, especially with at least three relievers (Kyle Crick, Tyler Glasnow and Richard Rodriguez) unavailable on Monday night.

The Pirates officially sent veteran super-utility man Sean Rodriguez to Triple-A to begin a rehab assignment. Rodriguez was in Indianapolis' lineup on Monday, batting second and playing third base.

Pittsburgh also reinstated left-hander Enny Romero from the 10-day disabled list and designated him for assignment. Romero pitched for the Pirates twice in April then went on the disabled list on April 29, when they initially intended to DFA him. The lefty posted a 5.14 ERA over eight appearances during his Minor League rehab assignment.

Amateur signings
The Pirates were active as the international signing period began on Monday. They did not acquire any of MLB Pipeline's top 30 international prospects, according to MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez, but they signed the following players from the Dominican Republic: infielder Luis Tejada ($500,000), outfielder Osvaldo Gavilan ($700,000), outfielder Sergio Campana ($500,000), shortstop Daniel Lopez ($400,000), infielder Juan Jerez ($380,000) and shortstop Orlando Chivilli ($350,000). They also signed Venezuelan left-hander Adrian Mendez for $355,000.

The Pirates have an international bonus pool of $5,504,500 this year. This is their first full signing period under international scouting director Junior Vizcaino, who was hired in December.

International signing day tracker

The Pirates also signed two Draft picks: catcher Grant Koch, a fifth-rounder from the University of Arkansas, and infielder Mike Gretler, a 10th-rounder from Oregon State University. Both players were assigned to short-season Class A West Virginia.

According to MLB.com's Jim Callis, Koch received a $364,600 bonus (the 144th pick's full slot value) while Gretler signed for $50,000 (below the 294th pick's $140,800 slot value). Pittsburgh has signed 31 of its 41 Draft picks. The Bucs' top unsigned pick is right-hander Gunnar Hoglund, the 36th overall selection from Fivay (Fla.) High School who is committed to play for Mississippi.

The Pirates signed right-handers Allen Montgomery, John O'Reilly and Alec Rennard as non-drafted free agents. Montgomery and Rennard were assigned to Rookie-level Bristol, while O'Reilly will pitch in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League.

All-Star update
Left fielder Corey Dickerson was the only Pirates player listed on the latest All-Star Game balloting update, which Major League Baseball released on Monday. Dickerson ranks 14th among National League outfielders with 540,093 votes, between McCutchen and Yasiel Puig. The All-Star Game rosters will be announced on Sunday at 7 p.m. ET.

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

Pittsburgh Pirates, Starling Marte