More importantly, though, Russell saw it as a good chance to get Andy LaRoche a start.
"Andy hasn't played much," Russell said. "We've been pinch-hitting him quite a bit -- and I'd like to get him some at-bats so he feels a little more comfortable at the plate. We've been looking at it over the last four or five days moving into this week what would be a good day.
"With [Chris] Narveson pitching today, we thought it would be a good day to get Andy in there and get Pedro a day off."
While Russell hopes the start will help LaRoche, he sees plenty of benefits in it for Alvarez as well.
"It's not so much [that] Pedro needs the rest, it was more about getting Andy in the game," Russell said. "[But] letting Pedro watch again, those young guys when they sit, they can learn a lot."
This month, LaRoche has started just two games, once at first base and another time at third base. His last start came Aug. 10 at first base against the Padres in San Diego. Since then, he's pinch-hit 10 times -- going 1-for-10 with a single and two strikeouts.
As a pinch-hitter this season, LaRoche has gone 4-for-28 with two doubles and two RBIs along with six strikeouts and two walks. In 55 starts, LaRoche is batting .228 (45-for-197) with three homers, 12 RBIs, six doubles and 16 walks against 29 strikeouts.
"It's tough for anybody when you're used to playing a lot and you go to the bench -- and you don't get to play," Russell said. "We've tried all year as much as we can to keep those guys in the game as much as we can and get them some starts here and there.
"It will help them when they pinch-hit. That's a tough enough job without having any time. Giving them four at-bats every once in a while will help."