Alvarez trying to work through recent struggles

Alvarez trying to work through recent struggles

PITTSBURGH -- Held out of the lineup against a right-handed starter on Monday, Pedro Alvarez continues to focus much of his time on rediscovering the swing that has not been there for him on a consistent basis all year. While Pirates manager Clint Hurdle has liberally sat Alvarez against lefties, this marks the first time the third baseman has not started against a righty since being recalled on July 25.

"We've got some things we're still working on," Hurdle said. "He's working very hard, but the transfer has not been clean and it has not been as quick as we had hoped. The readiness to hit is inconsistent. It's been challenging, to say the least."

Since rejoining the club three weeks ago, Alvarez has just 12 hits in 68 at-bats. Alvarez has struck out 24 times, drawn only four walks and has watched his season average dip to .197 during this stretch.

There is a possibility that Alvarez could return to Triple-A when the Pirates activate outfielder Jose Tabata from the disabled list this week. Such a move would give Alvarez the ability to accrue everyday at-bats in a less-pressurized environment. There are three weeks remaining on the Triple-A schedule.

One thing that the Pirates hope will jump-start Alvarez is adding off-speed pitches to his batting-practice sessions, Hurdle said on Monday. Inside the organization, there also seems to be a concern about Alvarez's current level of confidence, which is to be expected given how little success he has had this season.

"We're just trying to keep everything funneled and simple," Hurdle said. "Now it's at the point of the league having punched back, and he's got to find some punches. He's got to find a positioning to get himself in a more dynamic hitting position. That's the goal."