Taschner to be activated Wednesday
Reliever reports that left hamstring felt fine in rehab games
PITTSBURGH -- Lefty reliever Jack Taschner completed his Minor League rehab assignment, rejoined his teammates at PNC Park and will be activated from the 15-day disabled list prior to Wednesday's game against the Cubs.
The Pirates optioned right-hander Steven Jackson to Triple-A in order to clear a roster spot for Taschner. Jackson, who had just joined the club Friday, made a scoreless 1 2/3-inning relief appearance that night.
Taschner had been on the DL with left hamstring tightness, and Wednesday is to be the first day the lefty is eligible to come off. He tossed one scoreless inning in a rehab appearance with Double-A Altoona on Monday after pitching an inning in relief Saturday.
"I felt really good," Taschner said. "The hamstring felt great."
Taschner tested out the hamstring in front of the Pirates' trainers Tuesday, after which the club made the decision that he was ready to return. In 17 1/3 innings this season, Taschner has allowed 12 runs on 21 hits and six walks. He has 15 strikeouts.
-- Jenifer Langosch
May shows slow start doesn't bug Dotel
PITTSBURGH -- Octavio Dotel knows his history. He knows the numbers: just five career wins and 12 saves in the month of April -- each the lowest of any month he has pitched in. And he knew the way he bounced back as each season progressed.
So when Dotel won just one game this April -- the result of his first of two blown saves -- in just nine appearances while watching his ERA balloon to 10.61, he didn't dwell on the negative.
Instead, the Pirates closer dominated in May, going 8-for-8 in save opportunities, winning another game and slashing that ERA nearly in half to 5.31.
"It's always been like that," Dotel said. "April's not a good month for me. After that, I just get it going, and it goes the right way."
Dotel said his familiarity with struggling during the first month of the season allows him to get through each April. That might explain why his 3.16 career ERA in May bests every other month. This year marked his best May to date, as he allowed just one earned run in 11 innings.
"It doesn't make any negative things in my mind, because I don't have my best. It's just been like that," Dotel said of April, adding, "I don't put any pressure on myself. Just because I have a bad month doesn't mean that I'm going to lose every time."
-- Matt Fortuna
Pirates will get first shot at Nats' phenom
PITTSBURGH -- The Nationals officially announced Monday that right-handed phenom Stephen Strasburg will make his Major League debut June 8 against the Pirates at Nationals Park.
Strasburg, the top overall pick in last year's MLB Draft, has started 10 games between the Nationals' Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse affiliates, going 6-2 with a 1.43 ERA. He has 60 strikeouts in 50 1/3 innings and has walked just 12.
The 21-year-old's professional debut came against the Double-A Altoona, on April 11, when he struck out eight over five innings in a 6-4 Harrisburg win. Altoona later handed Strasburg his only loss in Double-A on May 2, scoring four runs (three earned) off six hits and three walks over 4 2/3 innings in a 6-1 win.
The Pirates will likely start left-hander Zach Duke against Strasburg.
-- Matt Fortuna
Pirates prospects recognized by leagues
PITTSBURGH -- Two organizational prospects -- Tim Alderson and Calvin Anderson -- took home Pitcher of the Week and Player of the Week honors after sensational performances last week.
Alderson claimed Eastern League honors after winning both of his starts for Double-A Altoona last week. The right-hander allowed just one run in 13 total innings, struck out 10 and limited opponents to just eight hits and three walks. The pair of performances pushed Alderson, who was acquired for Freddy Sanchez in July, to 4-2 with a 4.75 ERA in 10 starts this season.
Alderson became the second Curve pitcher to win the weekly award in May. Right-hander Jared Hughes had claimed the same honor two weeks earlier.
The Florida State League recognized Anderson after the outfielder hit safely in all seven of High-A Bradenton's games last week. Anderson finished 14-for-26 with three extra-base hits, eight RBIs and five runs scored. In 46 games this season, Anderson has hit .287 with 12 doubles, four homers and 26 RBIs.
-- Jenifer Langosch
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Matt Fortuna is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.