MILWAUKEE -- The Pirates' instructional league, which began last week in Bradenton, Fla., will be getting a few new faces upon the conclusion of the Major League season.
Alex Presley and Josh Harrison are scheduled to attend workouts for about 10 days so that both can work on specific areas of their games. Harrison will be getting instruction at shortstop, a position he has not played regularly since college.
Presley's focus will be on bunting, as the Pirates work to get him more comfortable in using the bunt as an offensive weapon. He'll also spend some time refining his running game, with attention paid to his leads and breaks on stolen-base attempts.
"There is still something to prove every year," Presley said. "I have to prove that I can come back and play well up here. There is always something new no matter if you're Albert Pujols or me. There is always motivation to be found somewhere."
Manager Clint Hurdle will travel to Bradenton to help supervise some of those IL workouts. Hurdle is also working on getting catcher Michael McKenry to join him in Florida for some one-on-one hitting instruction.
McKenry is a strong candidate to be the Pirates' backup catcher again in 2012, though his offensive production has trailed off since he first arrived. Since the beginning of August, McKenry has just 10 hits in 64 at-bats.
McKenry and Hurdle are also scheduled to meet three times during the offseason for hitting instruction.
Cedeno expresses desire to stay in Pittsburgh
MILWAUKEE -- One of the earliest decisions the Pirates will have to make this offseason will concern contract options and which ones -- if any -- the club wants to pick up. Four players on the Pirates' 40-man roster have club options for the 2012 season, though three of those players (Ryan Doumit, Chris Snyder and Paul Maholm) are unlikely to have theirs exercised.
Shortstop Ronny Cedeno could be the exception.
Cedeno said the organization has not yet informed him of the decision it intends to make. The Pirates hold a $3 million club option on Cedeno, who would get a $200,000 buyout if that option is not picked up.
The Pirates don't have an obvious candidate to take over at short, and that could push the club to retain Cedeno since the cost is relatively reasonable. However, there have always been questions about how high a ceiling Cedeno really has and whether focus issues will keep him from ever getting near it.
Cedeno, who joined the club as part of a 2009 Trade Deadline deal, said that if the choice were up to him, he would like to stay.
"I feel good here. I feel like I really care about being here," Cedeno said. "If they want to keep me here, I would love to be here. I'm trying to finish strong, and I hope that they are very happy with my job this year."
Cedeno's batting average is on the lower end of all National League starting shortstops. His run production, power numbers and on-base percentage are, too. However, his defense, as measured through various defensive metrics, stands near the top of all NL shortstops.
"I feel good about my defense this year," Cedeno said. "Sometimes during the year I've made errors mentally, but I am mostly happy with how I played this year. I'm ready for every pitch, and that has helped me a lot. I have to keep going with that and stay focused."
In a weak free-agent market, it will be tough for the Pirates to find a defensive upgrade at the position. The club could always explore the trade market or put faith in the continued development of Chase d'Arnaud and Jordy Mercer, both of whom are internal options.
Center fielder Andrew McCutchen returned to the lineup on Tuesday. He missed Monday's game after being hit in the lower abdomen by a batted ball during batting practice. Tuesday's start was McCutchen's 154th of the year.
Ryan Doumit remained out of the lineup despite increasing his pregame workout to include sprints, swings in the batting cage and stationary bike riding. There is still a chance that Doumit could make an appearance before the season ends. He has not played since taking a foul tip off the catcher's mask on Friday.
The Brewers will no longer have Yovani Gallardo start Wednesday's series and season finale. Milwaukee named Gallardo its Game 1 starter for the National League Division Series and will now have Zack Greinke begin Wednesday's game against Pittsburgh.
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.