PITTSBURGH -- Friday night was another night for Alex Presley to deposit all the sideline work into the muscle memory bank. After having started Thursday night's game, Presley was back on the bench on Friday, continuing a week-long pattern. Nate McLouth started in left against the Astros, in manager Clint Hurdle's hopes of "giving us a spark tonight." Presley began the season as a lineup mainstay -- he was the only left-handed hitter starting against tough southpaws such as Cliff Lee and Clayton Kershaw -- and was the Pirates' most productive hitter. But a 3-for-32 slump since April 29 has Presley checking the lineup card every day.
"The hardest part is being in and out, because ... it's hard to get into a flow, the timing," Presley said. "The best way of getting into a rhythm is by being in games. It hasn't been the easiest thing not being in there." Presley confirms having spent time in the cage trying to recapture the slash-and-dash approach that made him a catalyst following his recall in the middle of the 2011 season. But he hasn't quite been trying to re-discover the wheel. "I'm not really doing that much [new stuff], really," Presley said. "It's stuff I shouldn't even have to think about in games." Hurdle made no bones about choosing his daily left-fielder between two left-handed hitters: "It needs to be about production now." For both McLouth and Presley, it's difficult to avoid trying to have the proverbial "good week" when they do get a start. "You kinda try not to think that way, but it's human nature to go, 'I need to do something so I'm out there the next day,'" Presley said. "You don't want to put a lot of pressure on yourself."