PITTSBURGH -- Many future Major League regulars get on-the-job training. Jordy Mercer's on-the-bench training apparently hasn't yet run its course. The Pirates are pleased enough with the exposure their shortstop prospect is getting to not yet be considering his return to the Minors, even though the youngster has had one plate appearance since June 1. "When we have our young players in a utility role, there comes a point in time when they need to get out and just play," Pittsburgh GM Neal Huntington said of Mercer, who arrived from Indianapolis on May 29 as a hot hitter [.303 with the Indians] and has made only two starts since. "We need to keep those young guys sharp and growing and developing. We haven't reached that point with Jordy yet."
Manager Clint Hurdle considered giving Mercer his third start in Sunday's finale of the series in Cleveland, but Hurdle decided to stick with regular Clint Barmes. Despite the apparent inactivity, the club is pleased with how Mercer has responded to merely being in a big league environment. He has a hit and two walks in 11 plate appearances, with three strikeouts, but Huntington said Mercer has impressed behind the scenes. "He's worked so hard, pregame and postgame," Huntington said. "He's kept himself fresh. But you can't replace those in-game at-bats." When and if the Pirates do decide to return Mercer to Indianapolis for regular play, it isn't certain that his roster spot would go to another middle infielder, such as Yamaico Navarro. Jeff Clement, who is hitting with power for the Indians -- with half of his 56 hits for extra bases -- would get consideration.