Playing time dwindling, Marte a work in progress

Playing time dwindling, Marte a work in progress

PITTSBURGH -- A number of the Pirates' midseason moves, made to sustain the club's high standing, did not work out. Was the promotion of Starling Marte among those that missed the mark?

Implications are that perception could be accurate. Marte's recent benching and "remedial" workouts suggest he may not have been quite ready for the step to the Major after a half-season in Triple-A.

The irony is that for a long time, the club resisted fans' outcries for Marte's promotion from Indianapolis, until finally relenting on July 26.

Marte's bow was definitely electric: a first-pitch home run touching off a 2-for-4 night in a 5-3 win in Houston. Soon enough, however, the rookie began to struggle, and was further impaired by a mid-August oblique injury that idled him for nearly three weeks.

Forty-two games and 152 at-bats in, Marte is batting .250, and playing less frequently. He started twice in the last week, and was again on the bench for Saturday night's game against the Reds.

"There's a bunch of things we're working on with Starling," manager Clint Hurdle said. "Baserunning -- leads and breaks. Barreling up the ball at bat. Bunting. I'd put all three at the top of the list."