Notes: Sunday shakeup in lineup

Notes: Sunday shakeup in lineup

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates' lineup for their series finale Sunday against the San Francisco Giants included just four players who were in the lineup on Opening Day less than a month earlier, and one of those was staring pitcher Oliver Perez.

Two of the five Opening Day players missing from the lineup Sunday, Jose Castillo and Benito Santiago, are currently on the 15-day DL. The other three -- Craig Wilson, Ty Wigginton and Tike Redman -- were what the NHL refers to as "healthy scratches."

Considering the fact that Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon is trying to squeeze some additional production out of an offense that finished the month of April ranked last in the big leagues in runs scored, the benchings were not shocking. Entering the game, Wilson was batting .234 with four RBIs, Wigginton was hitting .145 with three RBIs and Redman was hitting at a .122 clip. Redman had the trio's lone home run this season.

McClendon, who has submitted 23 different lineups in as many games, said that the will continue to "put the best possible lineup out there to win a ballgame on that particular day." However, he certainly hasn't given up hope that his collection of slumping hitters will rebound from slow starts to provide production the team expected from them prior to the season.

"They're just off to slow starts," said McClendon. "We can't blow things out of proportion. We have to make sure we slow this thing down and keep a positive attitude with these guys and make sure that they understand they're a vital part of our success. We need them to be successful in order for us to be successful. We'll continue to encourage them, prod them, whatever we have to do to get them going."

"What happens with young players when they get off to a slow start is they have a tendency to panic a little bit. What they have to understand, and the message that we send to them, is 60 at-bats is certainly not going to define their season. This is a 26-week season. This is the [fourth] week. Let's keep our perspective and not panic as far as where we are going. These guys are going to get 550 at-bats. They have another 500 at-bats to go."

McClendon was asked by reporters at what point he believed the hitters' struggles became more of a trend than a slump.

"I don't know what that number [of at-bats] is," said McClendon. "I know one thing: 60 is not it. Seventy is not it. A hundred at-bats is not it.

"Talk to me in a couple of months. If guys are struggling then then you have a big problem. These are guys that we have to count on. We have to make them better."

Opportunity calls: The early struggles of Wigginton, Jack and Craig Wilson and Redman have provided reserves such as Freddy Sanchez, Bobby Hill and Daryle Ward with additional playing they likely would not have otherwise received.

Entering Sunday's action, Hill was batting .294 with five RBIs in 34 at-bats and Sanchez had a .279 average with four RBIs in 43 at-bats. Ward's two-run home run in the first inning and solo shot in the sixth on Sunday gave him a team-high ten RBIs and gave him the team lead in home runs over David Ross with four.

Even though some of his bench players are outperforming his starters, McClendon is not ready to give any of these reserves full-time jobs at this point in the season.

"As a manger you have to keep an eye on the big picture and realize the makeup of your club and the direction to which you are heading and also understand overexposure can be dangerous thing," said McClendon. "That's not to say I'm not happy for the guys that are doing well. I'm sure our fans get excited when these guys do well. But the fact is we've got some everyday players who are pretty good. They're just off to slow starts. We've got to get those guys going."

So what would players like Sanchez and Hill need to do to prove that they deserve to be regulars?

"I don't have an answer for that," said McClendon. "There is opportunity now."

Adding offense? Before the Pirates even reported for Spring Training, GM Dave Littlefield predicted that his offense would have to scratch and claw to put runs on the board on a consistent basis. The team has certainly done nothing in the first month of the season to change that evaluation.

"This is not an offensive juggernaut when we roll out the position players that we have. We all acknowledge that," said Littlefield. "Expectations shouldn't be out of sight with where we're at with these guys."

Littlefield said that acquiring another bat has "been on the top of my list," and he continues to looks talk with other team's about a potential deal. Thus far, those talks have not resulted in any imminent moves.

"It takes two to tango," said Littlefield. "To get any kind of deal done it's always based on who you're dealing with, what's available and a variety of factors.

As Littlefield sees it, there is no knight in shining armor ready to ride in and save the Pirates offense. The improvements will likely have to be made from within.

"I know there is a lot of speculation, whether it is trades or minor league players," said Littlefield. "The fact is we've got players that have been productive at the Major League level in the past that are still growing through what normally are productive years for Major League players.

"The guys we've got to get to improve the team are the guys that we've got. That's really what we're focused on more so than any kind of trade or Minor League player."

Minor Leaguers arrested: Cory Stewart and Jeff Miller, both of whom pitch for the Pirates' Triple-A Indianapolis affiliate, were arrested early Saturday morning at their Indianapolis apartment.

Miller, 25, was charged with public intoxication after reportedly attempting to use a neighbor's table to climb up the balcony to his apartment. Stewart, 25, was charged with public intoxication, disorderly conduct and resisting law enforcement. Stewart was shocked twice with a stun gun after reportedly struggling with officers.

Littlefield said that the two players will remain on the Indians' active roster until "everyhting gets weeded out."

"Certainly we don't condone any type of behavior that warrants being arrested or having issues involved with the police," said Littlefield. "But I think it's a little pre-emptive of me to be speaking until I know more of the facts of what has actually taken place."

"We are aware of the situation," said Littlefield. "It's something we're looking into to get more specifics and facts."

Bucs bits: Santiago will accompany the team during the upcoming 10-game road trip. He will be reevaluated Thursday. ... Castillo was 1-for-3 with a home run Saturday night in his Minor League rehab game with Indianapolis.

On Deck: The Pirates will begin a three-game series in Houston starting Monday. Josh Fogg, who has skipped his previous two scheduled starts due to a left ear infection, will return to the mound for the series opener. The Pirates have dropped 19 of their last 21 games at Minute Maid Park.

Ed Eagle is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.