PHOENIX -- Pedro Alvarez will not head down to the Dominican Republic for the start of winter ball, but he is also not ruling out the possibility of joining a Dominican Winter League club at some point."For at least the beginning part of the winter, I need to get my feet under myself and get ready for next year," Alvarez said. "If the situation presents itself that winter ball might be something later on, we'll tackle it them. But, collectively, we all made a decision that right now the best thing for me is to get some rest, then start working out to get ready for next year." General manager Neal Huntington said the organization supports Alvarez's decision to go back home at the end of the year and take a mental break after what has been a challenging season. In a year that was laced with expectations, Alvarez has hit just .189 in 67 games for the Pirates this year. Tuesday's second-inning solo shot gave him four home runs and 16 RBIs, totals that are nowhere close to the production the Pirates had anticipated. Alvarez's tumultuous season has also included a lengthy stay on the disabled list and two stints in Triple-A. "As we talked about it internally, we thought it was best to let him push the reset button, let him get home, let him get working on his offseason strength and conditioning program," Huntington said. "If he doesn't [end up playing later this offseason], we fully expect that he'll come into Spring Training ready to go physically, mentally and fundamentally to have a good season." Alvarez's offseason workout and conditioning program will be monitored, as is the case with every player in the organization.
Snyder joins Bucs with future uncertain
PHOENIX -- Having already returned home to Glendale, Ariz., to continue his rehabilitation work, catcher Chris Snyder has rejoined his teammates for this series at Chase Field. And depending upon the direction the organization takes over the next few months, there is a chance that this could be Snyder's final days in a Pirates uniform.The Pirates hold a $6.75 million option on Snyder for next season but are unlikely to exercise it. That doesn't rule out the organization trying to re-sign the 30-year-old catcher to a lesser deal, but it will allow Snyder to see what other clubs might be interested in his services. Snyder made it clear, though, that as he begins to look toward 2012, Pittsburgh remains very much on the radar. "I had a great time here," Snyder said. "Obviously, I wish things could have gone differently. I don't really think I've proven anything. The fan base or organization hasn't really seen how I can play when I'm healthy. It's a great town. It's a great city to play in. The nucleus is going to be back, and it's a team that, I believe, is on the upswing right now. It's a definite possibility." Snyder arrived in Pittsburgh as a Trade Deadline acquisition in 2010 and struggled offensively the rest of that season. He was making a substantial impact early this year before all that progress was halted by a back injury on June 8. Surgery followed, and Snyder couldn't recover quickly enough to salvage any more playing time in 2011. The recovery is going well, Snyder said, and he does expect to work through a normal offseason program. If the Pirates do make an attempt at signing Snyder, there is no reason to believe Snyder won't be fully healthy at the start of Spring Training. "My body has been responding well. Everything has been going good," Snyder said. "I'm not far away -- a couple weeks maybe -- from doing a normal training program."
Manager Clint Hurdle and Huntington, along with various members of the coaching staff, have been conducting end-of-the-season meetings with each player during this road trip. Season results and offseason goals are among the items discussed during these sessions. Though the Pirates cannot finish the year with a winning road record, they already have sealed more road victories than in any year since 2002, when the club also won 34. The last time the Pirates won more than 34 games away from home was '03, when they had 36 victories. The Pirates have five road games remaining to reach that mark. Reliever Jose Veras has already set a career high in appearances and has an shot at appearing in 80 games before the end of the season. Veras has already pitched in 77 games this year, which ranks second among all National League relievers. Chris Resop is also among the NL leaders in appearances with 73.
The Pirates have acquired right-hander Eliecer Cardenas from the Braves as the player to be named later in the Matt Diaz trade from last month. Cardenas, 23, had a 0.79 ERA in 40 games at the high Class A level this year. He also made five Double-A appearances. Combined, Cardenas struck out 76 and walked 35 in 59 2/3 innings.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.