PITTSBURGH -- The Starling Marte Watch continued on Friday -- more like the Marte Rhetoric, actually. The prospect's development and timetable have become daily topics, always with a fresh spin. Manager Clint Hurdle offered yet another perspective on the outfielder's status: He's paying his appropriate Triple-A dues. The Bucs are carefully logging Marte's Indianapolis at-bats and want to make sure he gets enough of them to provide a solid footing for his inevitable Major League debut. "We're not looking at a specific number of at-bats," Hurdle said. "But with experience [in Triple-A] comes more stability when they get here. Less experience, more challenges go with it."
General manager Neal Huntington, even more than Hurdle, can call on some in-house examples as guides to how much Triple-A springboard is needed -- bearing in mind how individuals differ from one another. Though they have never publicly admitted as much, the Bucs may view Pedro Alvarez (426 plate appearances in Triple-A) and Jose Tabata (438) as having been rushed. Alvarez has only recently begun to recover from a sophomore swoon, and Tabata is back in the Minors. Andrew McCutchen had 881 Triple-A plate appearances under his belt prior to his arrival. Alex Presley was somewhere in between (672, excluding his demotion this season). Entering Friday, Marte had 400 plate appearances with the Indians. "You want to bring [Marte] up at the right time for the right reasons," Hurdle said. "And no, we're not afraid to bring him up in a pennant race. We just want to [make the move] at the right time."