Cedeno has positive outlook for second half
Shortstop hopes new batting stance pays dividends
PITTSBURGH -- Despite a trying last month in which he saw his playing time drop dramatically, Ronny Cedeno said on Friday that being taken out of an everyday role might have been exactly what he needed to get back on track.
After starting 57 of the team's first 64 games, Cedeno saw shortstop Bobby Crosby take the majority of the playing time beginning on June 16. Manager John Russell hoped that benching Cedeno would force the 27-year-old infielder to understand the need for better consistency and focus. It also gave Cedeno time to adjust his batting stance -- the goal being that Cedeno would drive more balls -- with hitting coach Don Long.
"I think this has really helped me," Cedeno said, speaking to the events of the past month. "It was a help for me because they're trying to make me a better player. That's what I want. I'm going to try the best I can in the second half to finish strong, hit balls hard, take good at-bats, play with emotion. I want to show them that I'm here for one reason."
Cedeno started four of the final seven games played before the break and Russell left encouraged by what he saw from the shortstop, who finished with five hits in his last 12 first-half at-bats. Three of those went for extra-bases, a notable feat considering Cedeno didn't have an extra-base hit in 58 June at-bats.
"He's been doing a much better job," Russell said. "He's attentive on defense. He's having pretty good at-bats. He's not letting things bother him. That's what we've been striving for with him. Hopefully he's turned the corner.
"Bobby did a nice job when he played, so we feel like we have two guys who can go out there," Russell continued. "But I'd like to get Ronny in that mode that he is now and keep him there. He's a pretty good player when he's like that."
That's not to say that Cedeno, who was back in the starting lineup on Friday, will be the Pirates' definitive starting shortstop immediately. However, Russell has made it clear that Cedeno can earn more regular playing time by showing continued progress with his consistency and maintaining a positive attitude.
"I'm trying to be consistent because that's what they want me to do," Cedeno said. "Sometimes I'm trying to do too much. That's what happens. We have a lot of games left, and I'm going to stay positive. I'm going to trust myself."
McCutchen up for Pepsi Refresh grant
PITTSBURGH -- Andrew McCutchen is one of 15 players who has developed a community initiative and is now competing for a $200,000 grant as part of the Pepsi Refresh Project.
McCutchen and the Pirates plan to plant and cultivate an urban garden that would grow fruits and vegetables to be donated to various non-profit organizations to feed the hungry. This project would be completed with assistance from the city of Pittsburgh and the Student Conservation Association.
"Your vote for the Urban Garden idea could make a huge difference for the many hungry children & families in the city of Pittsburgh," McCutchen said in a statement released earlier in the week. "So, let's rally for this Refresh Grant and show your support for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Text PIRATES to 76462 to cast your vote."
Fans can cast their votes at www.mlb.com/PepsiRefresh or by texting a team name to 76462 through Aug. 17. The player receiving the most votes for his idea will be awarded the grant.
Kratz added to Pirates' 40-man roster
PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates moved right-hander Chris Jakubauskas to the 60-day disabled list in order to make space on the 40-man roster for catcher Erik Kratz. Jakubauskas, who was first sidelined after being struck in the head with a line drive in late April, is currently out with a right hip flexor strain.
Kratz, who will be wearing No. 38, arrived in Pittsburgh on Thursday in time to participate in the team's evening workout at PNC Park. His Major League debut will have to wait, though, as Ryan Doumit was slated to catch Friday's game.
"I wish I could tell you in words exactly how excited I am," Kratz said. "But it's just a rush of seeing the city, seeing the stadium, seeing the guys that are up here doing it every day. And just, I want to jump in and help out, that's the goal. I'm here right now."
Earlier in the week, the Pirates re-acquired infielder Brian Bixler, who was immediately sent to Triple-A Indianapolis, for a player to be named later. Pittsburgh traded Bixler to Cleveland in January, but with a need for a versatile right-handed hitter for Indianapolis, the organization opted to bring him back. Bixler hit .278 with 27 RBIs in 64 games for Triple-A Columbus before the trade. ... The Pirates have sent pitching prospect Tim Alderson from Double-A to Class A with the hope that the step back will allow the right-hander to focus heavily on delivery and mentality. The organization acquired Alderson last year when it traded Freddy Sanchez to the Giants. He was 7-5 with a 5.30 ERA in 17 Double-A starts. ... Taking Alderson's place in Altoona's rotation is Jeff Locke, who went 9-3 with a 3.54 ERA in 17 starts for high-A Bradenton. ... Pitchers Kevin Decker (short season State College) and Nathan Baker (low-A West Virginia) each earned Pitcher of the Week honors for their performances last week.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.