Russell anticipates calling up another bat

Russell anticipates calling up another bat

LOS ANGELES -- If the Pirates' starting pitching continues to stabilize, it looks as if the club will continue with a 13-man pitching staff for only a few more days. Manager John Russell said that he anticipates the club making a roster move early in the upcoming homestand to get an extra bat back on the bench.

Pittsburgh has carried an extra reliever since Tuesday, when it was forced to designate John Raynor for assignment to make an opening for a spot-starter. Since then, though, the Pirates have gotten lengthier outings from their starters, which, in turn, has allowed the bullpen to collectively catch its breath.

The cost of carrying an extra pitcher these last five days has been that the Pirates are playing with just a four-player bench. With one of those extra players being the backup catcher, Russell essentially has only three pinch-hitters to work with.

"It kind of stung us in that extra-inning game a little bit," Russell said. "It does limit you sometimes when you have to use a guy early that you'd like to save. I'm hoping we get someone here the first series if we can."

Steve Pearce and Neil Walker, both of whom have been raking against Triple-A pitching this season, would seem the most likely candidates for the callup. Either Brian Bass, who has pitched just once since being called up from Triple-A last Sunday, or Brian Burres is likely to be sent down.