PITTSBURGH -- Garrett Jones started at first base for the Pirates in place of Lyle Overbay on Monday in an 8-3 loss to the Orioles.
Overbay's batting average has fallen to .228 from a high of .242 on June 10. He is on a 4-for-30 run spanning 11 games. Over the same period, Jones, who was hitless in two at-bats Monday, has gone 11-for-32 and raised his average from .229 to .251.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said Overbay would not start for the entire series as he works on his hitting.
"We'll use him as the game dictates, with a double-switch or pinch-hit, but I actually told Lyle that we're just going to back him off these three days and get Garrett out there, and go from there and see where that takes us," Hurdle said. "See if we can tighten things up and reignite him."
Jones, who played 112 games at first base for the Pirates in 2010, made his second appearance there this season while seeing regular playing time at the corner-outfield spots. Hurdle explained how comfortable he is with Jones at first.
"Comfortable enough to start him there," he said.
Snyder provides encouraging update
PITTSBURGH -- Ten days removed from successful back surgery, Chris Snyder was back, walking around the Pirates' clubhouse at PNC Park and watching his teammates take pregame batting practice. The catcher provided an encouraging update on his prognosis.
Snyder said the surgery, which took place at Allegheny General Hospital on June 10, could not have gone any better, and that doctors told him during his checkup on Thursday that his recovery is already ahead of schedule. While the Pirates have said they expect a recovery period of 2-4 months, Snyder is aiming for a mid-to-late August return, he said.
"Going through the surgery the first time and comparing this one, this blows it out of the water," said Snyder, who had season-ending back surgery in 2009. "I'm moving around way better, in way less pain, have more motion in my leg. I'm wanting to get back as soon as possible."
Snyder, who hadn't spoken to reporters since injuring himself on June 8, said he felt ta pop in his back when he pushed off his left leg to leave the batter's box on a hit to left field. Snyder was thrown out at second and immediately left the game.
"It was just numbness down to the bottom of my foot," Snyder recalled. "If I stopped at first or I was safe at second, it didn't matter. I was coming off the field one way or the other."
Though Snyder's two back injuries were both to repair the same herniated disc, this procedure was done a bit differently, and Snyder hopes that is for the better. During his first surgery, doctors put two plastic darts in the disc and put a suture around it. As Snyder explained it, that method led to more scar tissue, which led to frequent pain down the catcher's leg. Those darts were not used in the second surgery.
In addition to dealing with the recovery process, Snyder and his wife, Carla, are scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday for a case involving 44-year-old Subhash Arjanbhi Modhwadia, who allegedly tried to attack Carla Snyder during an episode of road rage last Wednesday.
Snyder said he would speak publicly on the incident once the court case is resolved.
Former skipper Russell returns to PNC with O's
PITTSBURGH -- Interleague Play brought John Russell back to PNC Park on Monday as a coach for the Orioles. It was what Russell left behind in Pittsburgh, though, that he recalled fondly during a session with more than a dozen media outlets prior to an 8-3 Orioles victory.
Russell spent six years in the city, three as the Pirates' third-base coach and most recently three as the team's manager. He was dismissed after the Pirates finished 57-105 in 2010 and was hired to join Buck Showalter's staff in Baltimore later in the offseason.
Working in the American League has not kept Russell from checking on many of his former players. He said he's hardly surprised by the Pirates' early season success, and if there were any bitterness at not being given the opportunity to see the rebuilding process through longer in Pittsburgh, Russell didn't show a hint of it.
"I'd be lying if I said I didn't pay attention a little bit to see how they're progressing," he said. "I spent a lot of time with them. You pay attention to see what they're doing. I would be lying if I said I didn't feel kind of proud of the way some of the guys are responding. All of the work we put in and that they are continuing to put in has really paid off for them. It looks like they're really coming together as a young team. It's kind of fun to watch."
In fact, while Russell normally serves as the Orioles' third-base coach, Showalter kept him in the dugout on Monday because of his knowledge of the Pirates, using Willie Randolph as the third-base coach. Russell, a catcher in his playing days, has also been dealing with knee troubles recently, and this gave him an opportunity to get off his feet for a night.
"Knee's been barking a little bit," Showalter said. "Plus, I want to get him closer to the catchers between innings and stuff. You know, we talked about it a little bit. Plus, with John coming back here to Pittsburgh I wanted him to be a little closer to me to talk about his knowledge of the Pirates a little bit. It was three-fold."
Russell reflected positively on his time in Pittsburgh, and he actually spent Sunday evening having dinner with old friends. He and his youngest son, Stone, played catch in the PNC Park outfield while the Orioles took early batting practice Monday afternoon.
"It's nice to come back," Russell said before the game. "It's nice to see the ballpark again and the city. It's a little different [coming to the visitor's side], but obviously pretty familiar surroundings."
Prospect Morris to pitch out of 'pen
PITTSBURGH -- While the Pirates are not ruling out the possibility of Bryan Morris returning to a rotation down the road, the right-handed pitching prospect will continue his climb through the Minors as a reliever.
Morris pitched three innings in relief and picked up a save for Double-A Altoona on Sunday. The appearance was the fifth Morris has made out of the 'pen with Altoona. He has also made five starts, though his two most recent ones did not go well.
Pirates director of player development Kyle Stark explained the move was made so that Morris would get on the mound more frequently, rather than getting all his reps lumped together each fifth day.
"What role Bryan eventually fills at the Major League level will ultimately be determined by him," Stark added. "Not all starters in the big leagues transitioned from the Minor Leagues as starters."
Morris is the only one of the four players the Pirates received in the 2008 deal that sent Jason Bay to the Red Sox who is still with the organization. MLB.com ranked Morris as the organization's fifth-best prospect entering the 2011 season.
Other news and notes from across the Minors:
Altoona shortstop Jordy Mercer was named Eastern League player of the week on Monday after going 8-for-21 with three doubles, two homers and nine RBIs last week. Mercer is batting .267 in 66 Double-A games this season.
Indianapolis manager Dean Treanor has been named a coach for the upcoming Triple-A All-Star game. Mike Sarbaugh will manage the International League All-Stars.
In his first start since being promoted from Class A Advanced Bradenton, Phillip Irwin tossed six scoreless innings for Altoona. Irwin allowed two hits and walked just one. He was 5-0 with a 2.03 in 10 starts with Bradenton before the promotion.
For the third straight start, Brad Lincoln was charged with just one earned run allowed on Sunday. He pitched seven innings in Indianapolis' win over Rochester and struck out seven.
Nineteen members of the 1971 World Series-winning Pirates team are expected to appear at PNC Park Tuesday night for a pregame ceremony honoring the team's 40th anniversary.
Pirates pitchers began the week with a collective 3.13 ERA at PNC Park this season, the fifth-best home ERA in the National League.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. Laura Myers is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.