PITTSBURGH -- Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen has been named a preliminary winner of the Heart and Hustle Award, which is handed out by Major League Baseball's Players Alumni Association. Since 2005, the award is annually presented to an active player who demonstrates a passion for the game of baseball and best embodies the values, spirit and traditions of the game.

McCutchen was recognized as his team's recipient prior to Tuesday's game against the Reds.

There are 30 preliminary winners, one from each club, for the award. An overall winner will be determined through votes from active players and alumni and will be announced at the Legends for Youth Dinner on Nov. 5 in New York.

The 2009 Heart and Hustle Award was given to St. Louis' Albert Pujols. David Eckstein (2005), Craig Biggio (2006 and 2007) and Grady Sizemore (2008) round out the list of past winners.

Pearce happy about repairing bum knee

PITTSBURGH -- Pirates first baseman Steve Pearce is ready to move on, even if that means undergoing season-ending surgery to do so.

On Wednesday, Pearce will have an arthroscopic procedure to repair the patella tendon in his left knee. Yet, less than 24 hours before surgery, Pearce spoke not so much about the frustrations of a season cut short, but of the relief of eliminating the discomfort in his knee for good.

"I'm not actually worried about the effects," Pearce said over the phone. "Actually, I think this can be a great thing for my career. I can't be the player I want to be with this bum knee. I think I can really benefit by getting this taken care of."

Pearce revealed on Tuesday that his knee first began bothering him early in the 2009 season. He dealt with pain on and off throughout the year, and wasn't able to do any lower body exercises during the winter because of continued discomfort.

The knee gave Pearce more problems this season, though it wasn't until early July -- while Pearce was finishing up a rehab assignment for a sprained ankle -- that it forced him to finally shut down.

When Pearce's knee began stiffening to the point that it was uncomfortable for him to sleep, he tried to alleviate the pain with a plasma rich platelet injection. That helped lessen the discomfort some, but not enough to satisfy Pearce. Knowing the limitations that the knee had given him for more than a year, he didn't hesitate to elect for surgery.

"When I come back after this, I'm going to be a whole new player, a better player," Pearce said. "Especially with this new approach that I've had this year to be more patient, now I'll also be able to explode on balls like I have in the past.

"I will be 100 percent in Spring Training and ready to fight for a job."

It's not guaranteed that Pearce will be ready at the start of Spring Training, though that is obviously his goal. He will rest his knee for about three-to-four months before beginning the rehab process.

Pearce appeared in just 15 games for the Pirates this season, as his time was cut short by the ankle injury.

McDonald is drawing high praise

PITTSBURGH -- Pirates manager John Russell raved about James McDonald's potential on Monday, and that assessment was backed up by Andy LaRoche one day later.

LaRoche is familiar as anyone with McDonald, as the two were teammates at both the Double-A and Triple-A level while in the Dodgers' farm system. Both have since been dealt to Pittsburgh on Trade Deadline day, LaRoche in 2008 and McDonald this past Saturday.

"I think to come to a park like this with the stuff that he's got, let's wait and see the results, but I think he's got a good chance here," LaRoche said, offering his own personal scouting report. "He's got good stuff. He's throws firm. He's got a great curveball. He locates well. I always knew that he had good stuff and would be a big league player."

McDonald gets the chance to make his first impression with the Pirates on Thursday when he starts against the Rockies. He threw a side session shortly after joining the club on Monday, and will take a 4.63 career ERA against Colorado into the outing.

Worth noting

In his first two rehab games with Triple-A Indianapolis, catcher Ryan Doumit went 0-for-8 with two strikeouts. He served as the club's designated hitter on Monday before playing right field on Tuesday. Doumit did not have a play in the field. He is scheduled to be in the outfield again on Thursday, after which Doumit will be reevaluated to determine if he can return to the Pirates on Friday. ... Outfielder John Bowker and right-hander Joseph Martinez, both of whom were acquired from San Francisco on Saturday, made their organizational debuts with Indianapolis on Tuesday. Bowker finished 3-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI. Martinez allowed three hits and struck out two in three scoreless innings. ... Outfielder Matt Curry, the Pirates' 16th-round pick this season, ranks fourth in the New York-Penn League in batting average (.343) and on-base percentage (.429). ... Andrew Lambo, who was traded to the organization from the Dodgers as part of the Octavio Dotel deal, has joined Double-A Altoona. In order to make room on the roster for the outfielder, catcher/infielder James Skelton was sent to Class A Bradenton.