HOUSTON -- Squeezed for playing time and at-bats, Steve Pearce is headed back to Triple-A Indianapolis, where he can return to playing on an everyday basis.
Pittsburgh optioned Pearce to Triple-A following a loss to the Astros on Wednesday. It was one of two postgame roster moves by the club, which also sent down right-handed reliever Steven Jackson to open up a roster spot for reliever Donnie Veal, who has completed his rehab stint and will be rejoining the club in Philadelphia on Friday.
The Pirates will wait until Friday to fill the roster spot left vacant by Pearce. With a number of extra outfielders already on the bench, it would seem most likely that Pittsburgh will call up someone who could serve as a backup infield option. Utilityman Luis Cruz is likely the most likely candidate to fill that role.
Pearce joined the Pirates on June 20 after the club designated Craig Monroe for assignment. At the time, Pearce was expected to serve as a right-handed bat off the bench and as an extra outfielder. Since then, though, Pearce found himself as a fifth outfield option at best and without the prospect of any playing time at first.
"He was kind of spinning his wheels here," manager John Russell said. "We don't foresee him being a bench player right now. He needs to go down and get his swing back."
Pearce made two starts while he was up and went 1-for-12 with a double and six strikeouts.
"I wasn't doing a good job hitting, and to be a good guy off the bench, you have to be able to hit," Pearce said. "It's tough hitting off the bench. I tried my hardest. I've got to get my swing. I have to find it again. Right now, the only way to do that is to go down."
The Pirates plan to have Pearce spend some time playing both in right field and at first in order to continue grooming him as a potential option at either position. Pearce had played exclusively as a first baseman with Indianapolis before being called up.
"It'll be nice to have two positions under my belt, and that will definitely give me more looks if I can play the outfield," said Pearce, a natural first baseman. "It's definitely tougher not playing every day."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.