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Pirates Draft preview: projected pick at No. 10

Club's last top-10 selection was Meadows in '13
MLB.com

PITTSBURGH -- The last time the Pirates had a top-10 pick in the MLB Draft, they selected an 18-year-old outfielder from a high school in Loganville, Ga. That was Austin Meadows, the ninth overall selection in 2013 who broke into the Majors earlier this month.

The Bucs' disappointing, 75-87 season in 2017 left them out of the postseason for the second straight year. The silver lining is a top-10 pick in the Draft that they hope will lead them to another talented young players like Meadows.

PITTSBURGH -- The last time the Pirates had a top-10 pick in the MLB Draft, they selected an 18-year-old outfielder from a high school in Loganville, Ga. That was Austin Meadows, the ninth overall selection in 2013 who broke into the Majors earlier this month.

The Bucs' disappointing, 75-87 season in 2017 left them out of the postseason for the second straight year. The silver lining is a top-10 pick in the Draft that they hope will lead them to another talented young players like Meadows.

:: 2018 Draft coverage ::

The 2018 Draft will take place on June 4-6, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB Network and MLB.com at 6 p.m. ET on Monday, June 4. MLB Network will broadcast the first 43 picks (Round 1 and Competitive Balance Round A), while MLB.com will stream all 78 picks on Day 1. MLB.com will also provide live pick-by-pick coverage of Rounds 3-10 on Day 2, with a preview show beginning at 12:30 p.m. ET. Then, Rounds 11-40 can be heard live on MLB.com on Day 3, beginning at noon ET.

Go to MLB.com/Draft to see the Top 200 Prospects list, projected top picks from MLB Pipeline analysts Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo, the complete order of selection and more. And follow @MLBDraft on Twitter to see what Draft hopefuls, clubs and experts are saying.

Here's how the Draft is shaping up for the Pirates, whose first selection is the 10th overall pick.

In about 50 words
The Pirates would love to land another five-tool talent like Meadows or another intriguing arm like Shane Baz, their first-round pick last year. Their 10-year history of top-10 picks includes Meadows, Mark Appel (unsigned), Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, Tony Sanchez and Pedro Alvarez -- a handful of hits and misses. They're aiming for another hit this time around.

Video: Mayo breaks down Top 200 Draft prospects

The scoop
MLB Pipeline's top three Draft prospects are college players: right-handers Casey Mize (Auburn) and Brady Singer (Florida) and infielder Nick Madrigal (Oregon State). Mize is widely expected to go first overall to the Tigers. Beyond that, the top 10 is anyone's guess.

"There isn't a ton of clarity in front of us," general manager Neal Huntington said. "One seems to be pretty set at this point in time, but two through nine seem to be variable at this point … maybe more so than prior years."

There will be a lot of high school talent available when the Pirates pick, so they can continue their search for high-upside players. However, Huntington and director of amateur scouting Joe DelliCarri always keep their options open to take the best player available when they're on the clock.

"Complete confidence in Joe DelliCarri, and our group [of scouts] down there has done everything that they can do," Huntington said. "We joked with Joe that he was ready to draft on Jan. 4. We could've put a board together and felt really good about it."

First-round buzz
MLB Pipeline's experts have linked the Pirates to a handful of high school players. MLB.com's Jim Callis has connected Pittsburgh to prep right-handers Grayson Rodriguez, Carter Stewart and Cole Winn as well as lefty Ryan Weathers. MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo also mentioned Winn as a possibility for Pittsburgh in a recent mock draft.

Video: Draft Report: Jarred Kelenic, High School outfielder

If they decide to pick a position player, Callis noted that the Pirates' preference for athletic outfielders could lead them to Jarred Kelenic (a high schooler from Wisconsin) or Travis Swaggerty (South Alabama). High school third baseman Nolan Gorman, a lefty-hitting slugger with plenty of raw power, may also be of interest.

Money matters
Each team has an allotted bonus pool equal to the sum of the values assigned to its selections in the first 10 rounds of the Draft. Any bonus money above $125,000 given to a player picked in rounds 11-40 also counts against a team's allotment. If a player selected in the first 10 rounds doesn't sign, his pick's value is subtracted from the team's pool. If the club exceeds its allotment, it will face a penalty.

A team that outspends its pool by 0-5 percent will pay a 75 percent tax on the overage. Beyond that, clubs can lose future picks and pay additional taxes. In six years under these rules, teams have outspent their allotments 95 times but never by more than 5 percent.

The Pirates are one of seven clubs with an eight-figure bonus pool this year, as they have $10,390,400 to spend. Their first pick (10th overall) is valued at $4,560,200, their Competitive Balance Round A pick (36th) at $1,967,900 and their second-round selection (51st) at $1,382,400. Last year, the Pirates signed first-round pick Baz for a $4.1 million bonus, more than the $4,032,000 value assigned to the 12th overall selection.

Shopping list
Teams rarely, if ever, take players based upon a "need" in the Draft. But the Pirates certainly have traits that they look for in players. They have a history of selecting patient/high-contact hitters, athletic defenders and projectable pitchers who have strikeout stuff and high ground-ball rates. But they've also shown a willingness to draft raw talent out of the high school ranks, as they did early on in last year's Draft. The Pirates have a young Major League team and a deep, well-rounded farm system, so they're best served sticking to their "best player available" philosophy.

Video: Top Prospects: Shane Baz, RHP, Pirates

Trend watch
The Pirates used their top pick on a position player each year from 2013-17, and they gravitated toward hitters with their top-five-round picks during that stretch. They bucked that trend a bit last year by taking Baz in the first round. With four picks on Day 1 of the Draft last year, the Bucs went heavy on high-ceiling high school talent by selecting Baz, right-hander Steven Jennings and outfielders Calvin Mitchell and Conner Uselton.

Rising fast
Kevin Newman and Kevin Kramer, two of the Pirates' first three picks in the 2015 Draft, began the season with Triple-A Indianapolis. Newman could make his Major League debut later this year, and the Bucs began moving the former first-rounder between shortstop and second base to increase his defensive versatility if he breaks in as a bench player. Kramer, who's worked around the infield this season, may not be far behind after a breakout 2017 season at the plate with Double-A Altoona.

Video: Top Prospects: Kevin Newman, SS, Pirates

Cinderella story
Max Moroff was a 16th-round pick out of high school in the 2012 Draft, but his patient approach and versatile glove have made him one of the Pirates' top infield depth options. Most of their current players and top prospects were either high-round Draft picks, trade acquisitions or international signings. Keep an eye on Class A West Virginia first baseman Mason Martin, though. Pittsburgh's No. 25 prospect is off to a slow start this season, but he slugged 11 homers over 39 games in his professional debut with the Gulf Coast League Pirates last year.

In the show
Twelve players on the Pirates' 40-man roster were acquired in the Draft: Josh Bell (2011, second round), Adam Frazier (2013, sixth round), Tyler Glasnow (2011, fifth round), Clay Holmes (2011, ninth round), Nick Kingham (2010, fourth round), Chad Kuhl (2013, ninth round), Jordan Luplow (2014, third round), Meadows (2013, first round), Jordy Mercer (2008, third round), Moroff (2012, 16th round), Jacob Stallings (2012, seventh round) and Taillon (2010, first round). All 12 of them have played for the Bucs over the last two years, with Luplow and Stallings the only two who haven't spent time in the big leagues this season.

The Pirates' recent top picks
2017: Shane Baz, RHP (Rookie-level GCL Pirates)
2016: Will Craig, 1B (Double-A Altoona)
2015: Kevin Newman, INF (Triple-A Indianapolis)
2014: Cole Tucker, SS (Double-A Altoona)
2013: Austin Meadows, OF (Pittsburgh Pirates)

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

Pittsburgh Pirates

Meadows sticks with Bucs as Marte returns

Hurdle says hot-hitting prospect will start when regular gets day off
MLB.com

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates brought back star center fielder Starling Marte on Saturday without sending down hot-hitting outfield prospect Austin Meadows.

Marte returned from the 10-day disabled list on Saturday, started in center field and batted third for the Pirates against the Cardinals at PNC Park. The Bucs made room for Marte by optioning corner infielder/outfielder Jose Osuna to Triple-A Indianapolis.

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PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates brought back star center fielder Starling Marte on Saturday without sending down hot-hitting outfield prospect Austin Meadows.

Marte returned from the 10-day disabled list on Saturday, started in center field and batted third for the Pirates against the Cardinals at PNC Park. The Bucs made room for Marte by optioning corner infielder/outfielder Jose Osuna to Triple-A Indianapolis.

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A week ago, Meadows seemed likely to return to Triple-A upon Marte's return. But his scorching start in the Majors left Pittsburgh no choice but to keep him on the roster and playing on a regular basis.

"I think that's the understanding we all wanted to have coming in, and then his performance was eye-catching," manager Clint Hurdle said. "Very similar to the performance of a young man who was here a few years ago: Gregory Polanco, who started his Major League career with an 11-game hitting streak. We'll see where this all goes.

"However, for us to continue to try to put our roster together the best way we have the opportunity to do so, with the stretch of games that are coming up, it seemed like the tactical baseball move to make."

Bringing back Marte will provide a boost for the Bucs' lineup and outfield defense. Marte was slashing .308/.366/.503 with six home runs and ranked among the Major League leaders in Statcast™'s Outs Above Average in 41 games before he was sidelined by a strained right oblique.

Hurdle said the Pirates will use all four outfielders: Corey Dickerson in left, Marte in center, Polanco in right and Meadows -- who started in center during Marte's absence -- in all three spots.

"I didn't really know what was going to happen, to be honest with you. I'm just fortunate enough to be here," Meadows said. "For me, being able to go out there and help the team win and going out there and playing hard, showing them what I can do out there, I'm going to stick to that and we'll see what happens down the road."

The Pirates have previously mentioned a need to monitor Dickerson's workload; he has never started more than 98 games in the outfield in a season, and he's made 44 starts in left field this year. They will also play it safe with Marte, who returned from an oblique strain in only 11 days. After a sensational start to the season and a bounce-back in early May, Polanco has struggled at the plate.

Video: PIT@CIN: Meadows rips a 2-run homer to right in 9th

Meadows will start when Dickerson, Marte or Polanco gets a day off. He has played all three outfield spots in the Minors. Pittsburgh's front office prefers that top prospects play on a regular basis, so it's not as if the Bucs intend to have Meadows waste away on the bench.

"When Polanco's playing well, everybody likes it. When Marte's playing well, everybody likes it. When Dickerson's playing well, everybody likes it," Hurdle said. "Nobody wants anybody out of the lineup. These guys do need time out of the lineup just to stay in a good spot. So it's not easy by any means, but there are decisions that need to be made."

They made another decision on Saturday, bumping Polanco down the lineup from the No. 2 hole to seventh. Polanco entered Saturday in a 3-for-28 slump and hasn't driven in a run since May 15, the same day Marte went down. Polanco still leads the Pirates in home runs (eight) and walks (26), but his average has tumbled to .213 and his OPS to .757.

"He's doing the appropriate work. It's [about] transferring work, pregame work, into game performance," Hurdle said. "It's nothing more than the game punching back, pitchers finding different ways to attack. … He's got some great video to watch from April. He's got some video to watch from May where he's been challenged in different areas. He's trying to put those two things together to reframe it and be a more consistent hitter, for sure."

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

Pittsburgh Pirates, Corey Dickerson, Starling Marte, Austin Meadows, Jose Osuna, Gregory Polanco

Musgrove ready to make first start Friday

Right-hander set to join tight-knit Bucs group on field
MLB.com

CINCINNATI -- Joe Musgrove did the rehab work. He made four starts for three different Minor League teams in the Pirates' system. He watched and waited and wondered when his time would come. Now, at last, he's prepared for his Pittsburgh debut.

After nearly two months on the disabled list due to a strained right shoulder, Musgrove will make his first start in a Pirates uniform on Friday night at PNC Park against the Cardinals. It will be the 25-year-old right-hander's first appearance in a Major League game since Oct. 31, when he worked the seventh inning of World Series Game 6 for the Astros.

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CINCINNATI -- Joe Musgrove did the rehab work. He made four starts for three different Minor League teams in the Pirates' system. He watched and waited and wondered when his time would come. Now, at last, he's prepared for his Pittsburgh debut.

After nearly two months on the disabled list due to a strained right shoulder, Musgrove will make his first start in a Pirates uniform on Friday night at PNC Park against the Cardinals. It will be the 25-year-old right-hander's first appearance in a Major League game since Oct. 31, when he worked the seventh inning of World Series Game 6 for the Astros.

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"Really excited. A little anxiousness. Butterflies are starting to kick in now," Musgrove said. "A lot of sitting down, a lot of patience, but I'm finally ready to go."

Since coming over from Houston alongside Colin Moran and Michael Feliz in the Gerrit Cole trade, Musgrove has been playing catch-up. Shoulder soreness set him back early in Spring Training. He was nearly ready to start the first week of the season, but a muscle strain made him restart the build-up process to strengthen his arm.

Musgrove pitched three innings for Class A Advanced Bradenton on May 1, four innings for Double-A Altoona on May 7, 5 2/3 innings for Triple-A Indianapolis on May 12 and five more innings in Triple-A last Friday. After all that traveling and waiting, he is stretched out, ready to come off the disabled list on Friday and able to pitch without restrictions.

"I want to be able to do my part here," Musgrove said. "We've been having a lot of fun here. Watching these guys play has been a blast. It's tough to sit down and not be a part of it."

With Musgrove in the fold, the Pirates will get their first look at the five-man rotation they envisioned entering Spring Training. Though Musgrove spent most of last season in the Astros bullpen, Pittsburgh viewed him as a starter from the moment he joined the organization. Friday will be his first start in the Majors since July 15. He owns a career 5.37 ERA over 25 starts.

"Especially when you're coming over to a new team, it's tough to sit down and not do anything, to show up every day and get a check and feel like you're not earning your money," Musgrove said. "I want to go out there and give them what they ask for."

Around the horn
• Catcher Francisco Cervelli (jammed right ring finger) was available off the bench on Thursday after exiting Wednesday's game early, manager Clint Hurdle said.

• Cervelli matched his single-season, career-high mark with his seventh home run on Wednesday night. Cervelli, who tweaked his setup and added a leg kick to his swing during Spring Training, also entered Thursday's series finale with 27 RBIs in 38 games. He set a career high in 2015 with 43 RBIs in 130 games.

Tweet from @adamdberry: Francisco Cervelli's offensive evolution this season, at age 32, has been really interesting. Good look at some key numbers from our @Statcast™ research crew... pic.twitter.com/oNcB6ns0sG

Kevin Kramer, the Pirates' No. 8 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, started at third base for Triple-A Indianapolis on Thursday, his first career appearance there. Indianapolis has a crowded infield that includes Kramer, who's worked at second, third and shortstop; shortstop prospect Kevin Newman, who has also played some second base; Max Moroff, who was optioned to Triple-A on Sunday; and super-utility man Pablo Reyes, who has played second, third, shortstop and center field.

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

Pittsburgh Pirates, Joe Musgrove

NL Central prospects who are this close to callup

MLB.com

The big stage hasn't bothered Pirates prospect Austin Meadows. Nor have the bright lights. And take it from Pittsburgh's rookie center fielder: Compared to Triple-A, they really do shine in the big leagues.

"The lights are brighter," Meadows said Tuesday after hitting his second homer in his fourth Major League game. "You can see the ball a lot better."

The big stage hasn't bothered Pirates prospect Austin Meadows. Nor have the bright lights. And take it from Pittsburgh's rookie center fielder: Compared to Triple-A, they really do shine in the big leagues.

"The lights are brighter," Meadows said Tuesday after hitting his second homer in his fourth Major League game. "You can see the ball a lot better."

Meadows was being sincere. Called up on Friday, the Pirates' No. 2 prospect said part of his production was due to the brighter lights in big league ballparks allowing him to better see pitches. Whatever the reason, Meadows' early success has helped the Bucs withstand Starling Marte's oblique strain.

Video: SD@PIT: Meadows tallies 3 hits, 1st career HR

Pitching prospect Nick Kingham also made an immediate impact for Pittsburgh, and Freddy Peralta did the same for the Brewers. There's help down on the farm in the National League Central, though clubs can only hope for debuts as electrifying as those put together by Meadows, Kingham and Peralta.

Here are five NL Central prospects to watch, one from each team. Like Meadows, they could soon find themselves playing under the bright lights of the big leagues.

Video: Top Prospects: Adbert Alzolay, RHP, Cubs

CUBS
Prospect:
Adbert Alzolay, RHP
MLB Pipeline rank: No. 1 (Cubs)
Why you should keep an eye on him: The Cubs have had success developing position players, but not pitchers. Alzolay could change that. The right-hander isn't far away, either, as he was considered to start in a doubleheader against the Reds on Saturday. Alzolay has had two dominating starts this season, including his Triple-A Iowa debut on April 20, when he held Nashville to two hits over six innings and struck out six. On April 30, Alzolay limited Omaha to one hit over seven scoreless innings, again striking out six. He's still working on his changeup, but he has the makeup that the Cubs love.
ETA: September, if not sooner

Video: Sheldon, Graves discuss Nick Senzel's health status

REDS
Prospect:
Nick Senzel, INF
MLB Pipeline rank: No. 1 (Reds), No. 6 (MLB)
Why you should keep an eye on him: The second overall pick in the 2016 Draft will be knocking on the door when he gets back on the field. Senzel began the season with Triple-A Louisville, posting a .271/.351/.459 slash line with three home runs in 22 games before he was placed on the disabled list due to vertigo. Senzel is currently taking batting practice and fielding grounders in Arizona, hoping to return to game action soon in extended spring camp. But there should be room for Senzel in Cincinnati's infield by the end of the year, as the 22-year-old can play either second or third base.
ETA: Later this season

Video: CHC@MIL: Burnes caps off impressive frame with a K

BREWERS
Prospect:
Corbin Burnes, RHP
MLB Pipeline rank: No. 2 (Brewers), No. 63 (MLB)
Why you should keep an eye on him: The Brewers already showed a willingness to call upon a prospect in a time of need when they promoted Peralta, their No. 9 prospect, for a pair of starts this month. Peralta happened to be on schedule when the big club needed an arm, but it could have just as easily been Burnes, the 23-year-old former fourth-round Draft pick who commands four pitches. He finished second in all of Minor League Baseball last season and led the Brewers' system with a 1.67 ERA at Double-A Biloxi, and while his Triple-A numbers in 2018 (1-2, 4.82 ERA in nine starts) don't jump off the page, one has to look past the thin air of Colorado Springs. In his first five road starts this season, Burnes had a 2.70 ERA and 37 strikeouts versus eight walks in 30 innings. "I want to know why this guy is not in the big leagues," one rival team's radio announcer said during a Burnes gem earlier this year.
ETA: Sometime this season

Video: BOS@PIT: Keller fans three over two scoreless innings

PIRATES
Prospect:
Mitch Keller, RHP
MLB Pipeline rank: No. 1 (Pirates), No. 14 (MLB)
Why you should keep an eye on him: Last year, Keller surpassed Meadows as the top-rated prospect in Pittsburgh's system -- and for good reason. Keller is one of baseball's most advanced pitching prospects, even if he's not yet a finished product. The 22-year-old right-hander, who was a second-round Draft pick in 2014, is 5-2 with a 3.02 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 47 2/3 innings over eight starts for Double-A Altoona. Keller's smooth, easy delivery pumps out fastballs that can touch 97-98 mph. His curveball is a plus pitch, and his changeup has improved over the past year. With a little more development time to sharpen his command and offspeed stuff, Keller has a chance to follow Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon on the road from top pitching prospect to top-of-the-rotation starter for the Bucs.
ETA: Possibly September, but more likely 2019

Video: KC@STL: Reyes nearing a return to Cardinals' rotation

CARDINALS
Prospect:
Alex Reyes, RHP
MLB Pipeline rank: No. 1 (Cardinals), No. 17 (MLB)
Why you should keep an eye on him: Reyes is set to join the Cardinals on Monday, and he could start as soon as the next day against the Brewers. By then, Reyes will be more than 15 months removed from the Tommy John surgery that stalled his ascent. But the 23-year-old has flashed the same electrifying stuff in three rehab starts, mostly recently striking out 12 over 7 2/3 innings for Double-A Springfield. The Cards just revealed that Reyes would return as a starter. The challenge facing the Cardinals, however, is managing Reyes' innings. They want him to work more than his previous career high of 110 so that he's prepared for next season, but the club can't risk further injury by pushing him too far. If the Cards want to restrict his workload, they could use his triple-digit fastball, swing-and-miss curveball and plus changeup in a relief role.
ETA: Next week

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

Milwaukee Brewers, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals, Alex Reyes

Meadows' early success is mind over matter

Sweet-swinging prospect honed positive visualization, confidence while in Minors
MLB.com

CINCINNATI -- For all the excitement and expectations surrounding his Major League debut, nerves haven't been an issue for Austin Meadows. Neither has big league pitching.

Meadows went 5-for-11 in his first three big league games against the Padres after being called up from Triple-A Indianapolis on Friday. He hit his first career home run on Sunday, and it might have been his third if not for the wicked wind along the Allegheny River on the night of his debut. According to Statcast™, nine of the 14 balls he has put in play since Friday classify as "hard-hit," with an exit velocity over 95 mph.

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CINCINNATI -- For all the excitement and expectations surrounding his Major League debut, nerves haven't been an issue for Austin Meadows. Neither has big league pitching.

Meadows went 5-for-11 in his first three big league games against the Padres after being called up from Triple-A Indianapolis on Friday. He hit his first career home run on Sunday, and it might have been his third if not for the wicked wind along the Allegheny River on the night of his debut. According to Statcast™, nine of the 14 balls he has put in play since Friday classify as "hard-hit," with an exit velocity over 95 mph.

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Video: SD@PIT: Meadows tallies 3 hits, 1st career HR

Meadows stayed hot in Tuesday's series-opening 7-2 loss against the Reds, slugging his second homer in the seventh inning at Great American Ball Park. Meadows has now hit more home runs in four Major League games than he did over 32 games in Triple-A. On top of all that, the sweet-swinging lefty's second homer came off a tough left-handed pitcher in Reds reliever Amir Garrett.

"He's up there looking at pitches. He's taking aggressive swings," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "Left on left off that guy, that's an impressive swing. I think we all like what we're seeing overall. It's been fun to watch him play."

He hasn't looked anxious, either. Why not? Two words: visualization and confidence.

Video: Austin Meadows' future in the big leagues

The visualization took place over the course of years of anticipation. Since being drafted ninth overall in 2013, Meadows has mentally prepared himself for the day he would take the field at PNC Park. It finally came Friday, accompanied by a rush of interviews and early ovations, but he'd already played the moment out in his head.

"The visualization's one of the most important things, at least for me," Meadows said Sunday. "I've always dreamed of this day and I've always dreamed of myself in the box here putting together good at-bats. That's the main goal."

Meadows' confidence developed in Triple-A. After an uneven start to the season, he found a selectively aggressive approach that worked for him and yielded good results. He went on a tear before his callup, slashing .394/.412/.515 during a seven-game hitting streak. He also talked with Triple-A hitting coach Ryan Long about the importance of projecting that self-assurance.

"If you're struggling, go up there and make people think you're hitting good. That's the biggest thing, the confidence and showing you have the confidence up there," Meadows said. "Hanley Ramirez, you would never know if he was in a slump. You would think the guy's 3-for-3 and he could be 0-for-3. Just the way he goes about his business."

Video: SD@PIT: Pirates rookie Meadows on 1st career home run

It's not imperative that a player is on a hot streak when the Pirates call him up. But if he is, Hurdle said, the key is keeping him in the lineup. Hurdle has done just that, starting Meadows in center field in each of his first four games.

"I've been a part of experience where players get called up, they're playing really well, then they just don't get an opportunity to play. That's hard," Hurdle said. "Sometimes, when there's a need, you just go grab the guy because you have confidence he can figure it out.

"His perspective is probably the most important. If he felt more confident walking in the door because of the surge, so be it. He hasn't backed off since he's been here."

Around the horn
• Closer Felipe Vazquez told Hurdle on Monday he was ready to pitch after rolling his right ankle during the ninth inning of Sunday's 8-5 loss to the Padres at PNC Park.

• The Pirates promoted relief prospect Jesus Liranzo from Double-A Altoona to Triple-A Indianapolis on Tuesday. Pittsburgh claimed the 23-year-old Liranzo, a hard-throwing right-hander, off waivers from the Dodgers on April 5 and assigned him to Double-A, where he struck out 18 batters and posted a 0.83 WHIP over 12 scoreless innings.

• Indianapolis also activated infielder Max Moroff, who was optioned by the Pirates on Sunday, and released non-roster right-hander Tyler Jones.

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

Pittsburgh Pirates, Jesus Liranzo, Austin Meadows

Prospect Bae returns home following allegations

Shortstop is cooperating with police in South Korea regarding investigation into domestic violence
MLB.com

PITTSBURGH -- Pirates shortstop prospect Ji-Hwan Bae has left the United States and returned to South Korea to cooperate with a police investigation regarding an ex-girlfriend's claims of domestic violence.

Bae left the club's Pirate City training complex in Bradenton, Fla., and flew home to Daegu, South Korea. The 18-year-old has been accused by 19-year-old Gi-Kim Seul, his former girlfriend, of slapping, choking and kicking her, according to a report by The Athletic.

PITTSBURGH -- Pirates shortstop prospect Ji-Hwan Bae has left the United States and returned to South Korea to cooperate with a police investigation regarding an ex-girlfriend's claims of domestic violence.

Bae left the club's Pirate City training complex in Bradenton, Fla., and flew home to Daegu, South Korea. The 18-year-old has been accused by 19-year-old Gi-Kim Seul, his former girlfriend, of slapping, choking and kicking her, according to a report by The Athletic.

"Ji-Hwan Bae informed us that a former girlfriend in South Korea has accused him of domestic violence," general manager Neal Huntington said. "Pursuant to Major League Baseball's policy on such matters, we immediately reported this information to Major League Baseball's Department of Investigation. The Pirates are cooperating fully with MLB's review.

"Bae has decided to return to South Korea to address these allegations directly. At this point, consistent with MLB's policy, Bae is permitted to participate in baseball activities during this review."

The Pirates signed Bae earlier this year for $1.2 million, the second-largest bonus they have ever awarded an international amateur free agent. Bae signed with the Braves last September, but his contract was voided when the organization was found to be violating international signing rules. He is ranked by MLB Pipeline as the Pirates' No. 29 prospect.

Bae has not yet been assigned to a Minor League affiliate. After joining the Pirates in Spring Training, he was working out in extended spring camp in Florida.

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

Pittsburgh Pirates

Meadows records 1st hits, steal in MLB debut

Pirates' No. 2 prospect called up before game, with Marte placed on disabled list
MLB.com

PITTSBURGH -- The news became real to Austin Meadows on Thursday night, when he received a text message from Kimera Bartee. The Pirates' first-base coach told Meadows that the time had come, that he was coming to Pittsburgh to help a first-place team continue to win games.

It hit him again on Friday. Meadows' mother, Staci, sent him a picture from outside PNC Park. The Pirates had hung a banner of Meadows, wearing his white No. 17 Pirates jersey, between those of Felipe Vazquez and Josh Harrison. The reality of it all set in on Friday afternoon, when he found his locker between Corey Dickerson and Jordy Mercer in the Pirates' clubhouse.

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PITTSBURGH -- The news became real to Austin Meadows on Thursday night, when he received a text message from Kimera Bartee. The Pirates' first-base coach told Meadows that the time had come, that he was coming to Pittsburgh to help a first-place team continue to win games.

It hit him again on Friday. Meadows' mother, Staci, sent him a picture from outside PNC Park. The Pirates had hung a banner of Meadows, wearing his white No. 17 Pirates jersey, between those of Felipe Vazquez and Josh Harrison. The reality of it all set in on Friday afternoon, when he found his locker between Corey Dickerson and Jordy Mercer in the Pirates' clubhouse.

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When he stepped into the batter's box in the second inning Friday night, he said, he felt no nerves. For nearly five years, through all the accolades and injuries dealt his way since the day the Pirates made him a first-round Draft pick, that was the moment Meadows played out in his head.

"I've been dreaming of this day," Meadows said. "It was just anticipation out there. Just being ready to play. Just going out there and being myself."

Video: SD@PIT: Meadows receives strong ovation in 1st MLB AB

The Pirates' top outfield prospect was as advertised in his Major League debut. Batting seventh and starting in center field, Meadows went 2-for-4 with a stolen base and launched two flyouts to deep center field in the Pirates' 3-2 loss to the Padres.

"I thought he had a very good debut," manager Clint Hurdle said.

Meadows quickly got a couple firsts out of the way. With two outs in the fourth inning, he smacked his first big league hit, a single, to right-center field. The Pirates retrieved the ball, which will go to Meadows' parents. Meadows soaked in the moment at first base with Bartee, then promptly stole second base.

Tweet from @bonnett_scott: .@Pirates Austin Meadows and his 1st hit ball and others from game. Congratulations..... Welcome to #THESHOW pic.twitter.com/n4jpTNq7hn

"I don't even know if it's hit me yet, honestly," Meadows said. "It's something I'll never forget, for sure."

Starling Marte's right oblique strain created an opportunity for the 23-year-old Meadows. The Pirates put Marte on the 10-day disabled list, retroactive to Wednesday, and called up Meadows to take his spot. The Pirates don't have a return date in mind for Marte, Hurdle said, but they don't anticipate their star center fielder will be down for long.

Meadows intends to make the most of his first taste of the big leagues, no matter how long it lasts.

"I'm excited to be a part of this great atmosphere they have going," he said.

Video: SD@PIT: Meadows on his journey to the Major Leagues

Meadows received word of his promotion on Thursday. Triple-A Indianapolis hitting coach Ryan Long approached him in the visitor's clubhouse in Norfolk, Va. Manager Brian Esposito wanted to speak with Meadows about a double he hit that could have been a triple. Meadows couldn't answer his manager's question about not taking third base.

"Well, you can't do that in the big leagues," Esposito told Meadows, "because that's where you're going."

Meadows' first call was to his mother. Staci was at PNC Park on Friday for his long-awaited debut alongside Meadows' father, Kenny; his brother, Parker; his fiancée, Alexis; plus a handful of family members from around Atlanta and others from nearby McKeesport.

Video: SD@PIT: Meadows family on Austin's journey to MLB

Meadows put together a seven-game hitting streak just before his promotion. That success was the result of an aggressive approach in the strike zone, he said, and good health. The latter was all that held back Meadows as he moved through Pittsburgh's system.

The past two seasons, Meadows was sidelined by an orbital fracture as well as hamstring and oblique injuries. Last fall, he began working with Dr. Joel Seedman, a trainer in Atlanta, to get his body in the best possible shape he could.

"The man has dealt with some adversity. He's dealt with some weird injuries," Hurdle said. "I think it's all helped him grow and learn and understand how he needs to take care of himself, because every player can be different."

Meadows' path here was also different -- perhaps not what he expected -- but he never doubted this day that he dreamed of would come eventually.

"I've always had that confidence. I've always known that I'm destined to be here," Meadows said. "Through the injuries, it obviously hasn't been the fast track. But there's always a reason for everything. I think it's made me a stronger person and who I am today."

Video: Austin Meadows on his MLB debut

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

Kingham appears in line to start again for Bucs

No. 12 prospect demoted to Double-A to keep him on schedule for May 19 opening
MLB.com

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates appear to be lining up Nick Kingham for another start in the big leagues.

The Bucs on Thursday transferred Kingham, who won his first two Major League starts, from Triple-A Indianapolis to Double-A Altoona. It seems likely that demotion will precede another promotion within the next two weeks.

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates appear to be lining up Nick Kingham for another start in the big leagues.

The Bucs on Thursday transferred Kingham, who won his first two Major League starts, from Triple-A Indianapolis to Double-A Altoona. It seems likely that demotion will precede another promotion within the next two weeks.

Amid an eight-day stretch that includes three scheduled off-days, the Pirates won't technically need a fifth starter until May 19 unless there's a rainout or postponement. That's why Pittsburgh optioned Kingham back to Indianapolis on Monday. Kingham, the Pirates' No. 12 prospect per MLB Pipeline, returned to Triple-A and started Wednesday, allowing three runs over six innings against Louisville.

The right-hander's next outing on regular rest, then, would come Monday. One problem: Indianapolis is off on Monday.

But Altoona will host Richmond on Monday night, and the Double-A club already has Kingham listed to start that game. Assuming all goes well, Kingham would then be in line to pitch, on turn and regular rest, on May 19. The Pirates play the Padres that night at 7:05 p.m. ET at PNC Park.

Video: PIT@MIL: Kingham K's 7 over 5 1/3 innings

It's unclear where Kingham fits into Pittsburgh's plans beyond that spot start. Right-hander Joe Musgrove (shoulder strain) is expected to make two more starts to complete his Minor League rehab assignment, and the Pirates have insisted they plan to use Musgrove as a starter. Their other four starters -- Ivan Nova, Jameson Taillon, Trevor Williams and Chad Kuhl -- aren't going anywhere, either.

Kingham, 26, made a historic Major League debut on April 29, carrying a perfect game into the seventh inning. He struck out nine and allowed only one hit over seven innings against the Cardinals at PNC Park. That performance convinced the Pirates to keep him in the rotation for one more start, and he allowed four runs with seven strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings against the Brewers at Miller Park last Friday.

In a corresponding Minor League move, the Pirates promoted 24-year-old right-hander J.T. Brubaker from Double-A to Triple-A. Brubaker, the Bucs' sixth-round Draft pick in 2015, posted a 1.80 ERA and 1.06 WHIP with a strikeout per inning in six starts for Altoona to begin this season.

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

Pittsburgh Pirates, Nick Kingham

Pirates opt for Kingham to remain in rotation

Rookie set to face Brewers after stellar Major League debut
Special to MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- Nick Kingham's very good weekend got even better on Monday when the Pirates announced the right-hander would remain in the rotation and make his next start on Friday against the Brewers.

"We had two different plans drawn up, and that was one of the plans we had drawn up," manager Clint Hurdle said. "We felt that if he pitched competitively to his skill set and gave us a chance to win the game, that we'd like to give him the ball another time."

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WASHINGTON -- Nick Kingham's very good weekend got even better on Monday when the Pirates announced the right-hander would remain in the rotation and make his next start on Friday against the Brewers.

"We had two different plans drawn up, and that was one of the plans we had drawn up," manager Clint Hurdle said. "We felt that if he pitched competitively to his skill set and gave us a chance to win the game, that we'd like to give him the ball another time."

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Kingham did that and more on Sunday, taking a perfect game into the seventh inning and finishing with nine strikeouts in his Major League debut, a 5-0 victory over the Cardinals. Therefore, the Pirates decided to keep Kingham in the rotation and send Steven Brault back to the bullpen -- for now.

"There's no promises after that based on the three off-days between [May] 7 and 14," Hurdle said. "We have to prioritize our rotation moving forward. That's a large volume of off-days within a week."

Video: STL@PIT: Kingham discusses his almost perfect debut

Kingham felt as if he done enough to warrant another start, but he was still nervous in the immediate aftermath of his impressive outing.

"I thought I helped my chances, 100 percent," Kingham said. "I still didn't know what they were going to do. It is a business and they have to do what's best for the club -- I understand that. But I'm glad I got it. I feel like I earned it, so I'm glad they gave it to me."

As for Brault, who struggled to a 4.97 ERA and 1.34 WHIP in his five starts, he'll try working things out in a relief role, where he made a three-inning appearance against the Tigers on March 30 in his only non-start of the season.

"There's some things he can sharpen up while he's out there," Hurdle said. "The ball-to-strike ratio, the walks-to-strikeouts, the pitch efficiency are things that can be improved, and he can help us win games here."

Around the horn
Starling Marte was not in the lineup on Monday for the first time this season after starting 28 straight games.

While Marte entered the series hitting safely in 10 of his last 11 games against the Nationals, he was just 1-for-9 in his career against starter Tanner Roark, though Hurdle said that didn't play a role in the rest day.

Video: Must C Comeback: Pirates walk off the Cardinals in 11

"That doesn't scare you off," Hurdle said. "He's played every game. And he played the doubleheader; he played the day game after the night game twice. So, just giving him a rest."

Enny Romero, who was scheduled to be designated for assignment on Sunday before revealing a left shoulder impingement and being placed on the 10-day disabled list, said on Monday that he still wanted to contribute to the bullpen after his rehab stint.

"Right now, my focus is getting my shoulder healthy and making sure I come back the best pitcher I've been, and making sure I'm doing what I have to do so that this team can keep me here," Romero said through interpreter Mike Gonzalez.

Hurdle said the last-minute reveal of an injury wasn't rare, and once the team found out, it went through the proper channels to place Romero on the DL.

"Sometimes players don't tell you things that you'd like to know, but you find out maybe after another decision has been made," Hurdle said.

Elliott Smith is a contributor to MLB.com based in Washington, D.C.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Steven Brault, Nick Kingham, Starling Marte, Enny Romero

Kingham's journey to bigs 'made me who I am'

Musgrove to begin rehab assignment Tuesday; Bucs' athletic starters have bench role
MLB.com

PITTSBURGH -- This is not how Nick Kingham envisioned reaching the Majors. Nobody draws it up like this, an eight-year road made longer by Tommy John surgery and the lengthy recovery process and, at times, bad luck. But Kingham has arrived.

Kingham joined the Pirates on Saturday and worked out at PNC Park. He was officially added to the roster on Sunday, when he will make his Major League debut against the Cardinals. Some might lament the obstacles Kingham has encountered since he was drafted nearly eight years ago. He's taken them in stride.

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PITTSBURGH -- This is not how Nick Kingham envisioned reaching the Majors. Nobody draws it up like this, an eight-year road made longer by Tommy John surgery and the lengthy recovery process and, at times, bad luck. But Kingham has arrived.

Kingham joined the Pirates on Saturday and worked out at PNC Park. He was officially added to the roster on Sunday, when he will make his Major League debut against the Cardinals. Some might lament the obstacles Kingham has encountered since he was drafted nearly eight years ago. He's taken them in stride.

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"It made me who I am today," Kingham said. "It's my path. It's my journey. It's my story. It makes me who I am. It made me prepared for this day."

The 26-year-old right-hander, the Bucs' No. 12 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, went 2-1 with a 1.59 ERA and 27 strikeouts in four starts for Triple-A Indianapolis. He added a slider to his repertoire -- which already included two- and four-seam fastballs, a changeup and a curveball -- after he left big league Spring Training and reported to Minor League camp.

"He's in as good of a place as he's ever been, just about playing the game, pitching, confidence, the things he's learned," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "I'm looking forward to seeing him pitch."

So is the Kingham family. Kingham's brother, Nolan, pitched Friday for the University of Texas against West Virginia University in Morgantown, W.V., about an hour south of Pittsburgh. His parents, Don and Roxane, will drive up with Nolan on Sunday morning to join Kingham's fiancee in the stands at PNC Park for his long-awaited debut.

"Couldn't be more excited. Couldn't be more prepared to come in and finally pitch at the big league level," Kingham said. "I'm excited. I'm ready. Let's do it."

To clear room, the Pirates designated left-hander Enny Romero for assignment.

Musgrove set for rehab assignment
Right-hander Joe Musgrove is tentatively scheduled to pitch three innings on Tuesday in a start for Class A Advanced Bradenton.

"I'm excited. I've been feeling really good," Musgrove said. "I'm prepared to do what I need to do to get back here as soon as I can."

Since the Bucs want Musgrove to throw six innings and/or 100 pitches before he joins their rotation, he likely will need to make four Minor League starts before coming off the disabled list. If Musgrove pitches every fifth day and everything goes according to plan, he could make his Pirates debut during the Bucs' series in Cincinnati from May 22-24.

Around the horn
• The Pirates sent out starter Chad Kuhl as a pinch-runner in the ninth inning of Friday's 6-5 victory. They've previously used Steven Brault as a pinch-hitter. With a four-man bench, having athletic starting pitchers is something of a necessity for Pittsburgh.

"It was actually taken into consideration when we made the initial decision. We've seen other teams do it," Hurdle said. "Brault's legit with the bat, and he's a baseball player. Kuhl has speed. We're trying to help him in his baseball awareness. … He has some usable running speed that showed up last night."

• The Pirates erased a 5-0 deficit on Friday, the first time they've made a five-run comeback and won since they beat the Brewers, 7-6, in 11 innings on Sept. 13, 2015.

• Infielder David Freese turned 35 years old on Saturday. The veteran played in his 1,000th career game on April 13.

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

Pittsburgh Pirates, Nick Kingham, Joe Musgrove

Hurdle: Bucs 'intend' to call Kingham for debut

MLB.com

PITTSBURGH -- Nearly eight years after he was drafted, Nick Kingham is set to make his Major League debut.

Kingham, 26, is expected to make his first start for the Pirates in Sunday's series finale against the Cardinals at PNC Park, an industry source confirmed to MLB.com on Friday. Tuesday's rainout and Wednesday's doubleheader created the need for a spot starter on Sunday. Manager Clint Hurdle confirmed Friday afternoon that the Pirates "intend" to call up Kingham, the club's No. 13 prospect, but would not officially name him the Sunday starter.

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PITTSBURGH -- Nearly eight years after he was drafted, Nick Kingham is set to make his Major League debut.

Kingham, 26, is expected to make his first start for the Pirates in Sunday's series finale against the Cardinals at PNC Park, an industry source confirmed to MLB.com on Friday. Tuesday's rainout and Wednesday's doubleheader created the need for a spot starter on Sunday. Manager Clint Hurdle confirmed Friday afternoon that the Pirates "intend" to call up Kingham, the club's No. 13 prospect, but would not officially name him the Sunday starter.

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Kingham, who had been scheduled to start Saturday for Triple-A Indianapolis, was the most logical option considering he's lined up to pitch this weekend and already has a spot on the 40-man roster. Hurdle admitted on Wednesday the Bucs would not make Sunday a bullpen game, which effectively ruled out the possibility of Tyler Glasnow coming out of the 'pen to start.

Watch: MiLB Video

It has been a long road for Kingham, the Pirates' fourth-round Draft pick in 2010 -- the same year the Bucs selected Jameson Taillon second overall. Kingham reached Triple-A in 2014 and was on the brink of the Majors in '15, but his progress was derailed that May. He underwent Tommy John surgery and didn't return to the mound until July 2016.

Kingham was delayed by a sprained ankle last spring before ultimately returning to Triple-A. He made 19 starts in Indianapolis, going 9-6 with a 4.13 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP. The Pirates didn't call him up in September, however, even when it was believed that Kingham was on the verge of exhausting all of his Minor League options.

Kingham was granted a fourth option year this season, allowing the Pirates to send him back to Triple-A. But the Bucs made it clear that he would be ready to help their rotation at some point this season. And Kingham made it clear he was ready for the call.

"I definitely think so, especially because I've played against a lot of these guys throughout the Minor Leagues," Kingham said near the end of Spring Training. "I know where I stack up against them. I feel comfortable and confident that, yeah, I can come out and definitely get the job done if need be."

In four Triple-A starts, Kingham is 2-1 with a 1.59 ERA, a 0.97 WHIP and 27 strikeouts in 22 2/3 innings. The Las Vegas native will face Cardinals right-hander Luke Weaver in his debut. It's unclear what will happen after that.

Kingham could return to Indianapolis after his debut, if it is just a spot start, or the Pirates could shuffle their rotation to clear a spot for him. The Bucs moved lefty Steven Brault out of the bullpen to start earlier this season, when it became clear that rehabbing right-hander Joe Musgrove would need more time to recover from a shoulder muscle strain.

Around the horn
• The Pirates likely will decide Musgrove's next step within the next day, Hurdle said. Musgrove threw a two-inning simulated game on Wednesday and said he felt good afterward. The Bucs could choose to have Musgrove throw another simulated game, or his next outing could be the start of a Minor League rehab assignment.

"Everything's trending up," Hurdle said.

• Reliever Bo Schultz, a non-roster invitee this spring who is now 13 months removed from Tommy John surgery, was promoted on Friday from Class A Advanced Bradenton to Triple-A Indianapolis. Schultz, a 32-year-old right-hander with 51 games of Major League experience, allowed only two hits over 10 2/3 scoreless innings in eight appearances for Bradenton.

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

Pittsburgh Pirates, Nick Kingham

Prospect Reynolds to have hand surgery

Pirates activate No. 22 prospect Martin
MLB.com

CHICAGO -- Pirates outfield prospect Bryan Reynolds will have surgery on Friday to remove the fractured hook of the hamate bone in his left hand, director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk said on Thursday.

Reynolds sustained the fracture while taking a swing, Tomczyk said. The switch-hitting 23-year-old struck out in the third inning Sunday while batting right-handed against Akron RubberDucks lefty Sean Brady, and Reynolds was removed before the fifth inning of Double-A Altoona's 4-0 win.

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CHICAGO -- Pirates outfield prospect Bryan Reynolds will have surgery on Friday to remove the fractured hook of the hamate bone in his left hand, director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk said on Thursday.

Reynolds sustained the fracture while taking a swing, Tomczyk said. The switch-hitting 23-year-old struck out in the third inning Sunday while batting right-handed against Akron RubberDucks lefty Sean Brady, and Reynolds was removed before the fifth inning of Double-A Altoona's 4-0 win.

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The Pirates will determine Reynolds' recovery timeline after the surgery, which will be performed by Dr. Edward Birdsong at Allegheny General Hospital. Catcher Francisco Cervelli sat out a little more than five weeks in 2016 after undergoing the same operation. It typically takes hitters even longer to fully regain their power after the surgery.

Reynolds, acquired along with reliever Kyle Crick from the Giants on Jan. 15 in the Andrew McCutchen trade, is the Pirates' No. 6 prospect according to MLB Pipeline. He hit .312/.364/.462 with 10 home runs last season for Class A Advanced San Jose in San Francisco's system. The Pirates invited him to big league Spring Training camp, and he went 1-for-21 with seven strikeouts in 13 games.

Altoona placed Reynolds on the disabled list on Tuesday and activated outfielder Jason Martin, the Pirates' No. 22 prospect, who was part of the Gerrit Cole deal.

Around the horn
• Manager Clint Hurdle said right-hander Tyler Glasnow, who pitched in Wednesday's 13-5 loss to the Cubs at Wrigley Field, could be available if necessary for Thursday afternoon's series finale. It would be the first time Glasnow, a starter pitching out of the bullpen, has pitched on consecutive days.

"There's going to be uncharted territory as the season goes on for a number of guys out there," Hurdle said. "Sometimes that's part of being in the bullpen. You need to provide what the team needs you to provide."

• Second baseman Josh Harrison was out of the starting lineup Thursday for the first time this season. Adam Frazier started at second base and batted leadoff.

Video: PIT@CHC: Williams receives gifts from Eddie Vedder

• At least one Cubs fan feels some fondness for Pirates right-hander Trevor Williams, who started Thursday afternoon at Wrigley Field. In December, Williams received a personalized note and signed ukulele song book from Pearl Jam singer and noted Cubs supporter Eddie Vedder. Williams wore "EV" on the back of his custom Players Weekend jersey last year as a tribute to Vedder.

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

Pittsburgh Pirates, Bryan Reynolds