MILWAUKEE -- When infielder Clint Barmes returns from his rehab assignment, Pirates fans should have a new appreciation for him -- and they may not have to wait long for a chance to show it.
The defensively steady Barmes, in his third season with the Bucs, has often had to go on the defensive when the subject turned to his bat. Fans have been quick with criticism. However, after a month of watching Michael Martinez and others called on to serve as backup infielders, Buccos Nation will cheer the return of Barmes, who hit .333 in his final 12 games before suffering a serious strain to his left groin in early July.
Manager Clint Hurdle on Friday expressed cautious optimism that Barmes would be able to rejoin the Bucs during the three-game series with St. Louis that kicks off a six-game homestand beginning Monday. That would mark the seven-week stage of Barmes' recovery, and originally his rehab time frame was set at between six and eight weeks.
Barmes is five games into his rehab -- two with Double-A Altoona and three with Triple-A Indianapolis -- and is scheduled to play two more complete games during the weekend.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.