Remember when Pirates general manager Neal Huntington's advice to fans at the beginning of Spring Training who wanted to check out top prospect Starling Marte was to get there quick, because he wouldn't be around the Grapefruit League too long?Sure enough, the Bucs hustled Marte out of big league camp to let him continue his development in relative privacy after he'd batted .520 (13-for-25) in a dozen exhibitions. Well, now fans of the Indianapolis Indians are getting the same suggestion: If you want an in-person look at the Triple-A version of Marte, hurry up. He may not be around the International League too long, either. "The Pirates want him to get a little seasoning, but I wouldn't expect he'll be here very long," Indianapolis manager Dean Treanor recently told the Indianapolis Star. "Still, I think the timing has to be right. I think they want him to face some more veteran pitching before they call him up, but I really don't expect him to be here an extended period of time." Through his first 13 games, the 2011 Eastern League batting champ was holding his own, with 11 hits in 49 at-bats, four of them for extra bases. He leads the league with seven stolen bases, and is yet to be caught. The speed factor could be particularly appealing, with the Pirates having been thrown out on five of their first 13 stolen-base attempts, with limited first-to-third ability. However, manager Clint Hurdle said during Spring Training the Pirates couldn't afford committing a roster spot to someone primarily for his speed.
McCutchen leads eight Bucs on ASG ballot
Gentlemen -- and ladies and kids -- start your All-Star ballot engines. With Thursday's launch of the Firestone All-Star ballots for the 83rd All-Star Game, online balloting for the July 10 Midsummer Classic in Kansas City begins Friday.Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen, already making a compelling case to be chosen to his second consecutive National League All-Star team, headlines the eight Bucs on the ballot. Joining him on the ballot are left fielder Alex Presley, right fielder Jose Tabata, third baseman Pedro Alvarez, shortstop Clint Barmes, second baseman Neil Walker, first baseman Garrett Jones and catcher Rod Barajas. Beginning Friday, fans can cast their votes for All-Star starters up to 25 times exclusively at MLB.com and at Pirates.com -- as well as at the other 29 club web sites with the 2012 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot. The online ballot will be available in English, Spanish, Japanese, Korean and Chinese. Online balloting, which in 2012 generated a record number of votes, will continue through 11:59 p.m. ET on June 28.
Double-A Altoona paying tribute to Moyer
The Altoona Curve, the Bucs' Double-A Eastern League affiliate, is honoring the Minor Leagues' tradition for creative promotions on Thursday night by paying homage to Jamie Moyer.Only a couple of days after the Rockies' Moyer, at 49 years and 141 days old, became the oldest winning pitcher in Major League history, the Curve is offering a checklist of admission options to its game against Richmond: Fans wearing apparel of any 49ers team (from San Francisco's NFL club to Jared Hughes' Long Beach State) get in free. Fans wearing the jersey from any of Moyer's eight MLB teams (Cubs, Rangers, Cardinals, Orioles, Red Sox, Mariners, Phillies, Rockies) also get in free. Individual Diamond Club seats and pairs of grandstand seats will go for $4.90. Since the Curve will be playing the Richmond Flying Squirrels, the only question is: Why not also free admission to fans wearing Rocky (as opposed to Rockies) gear?
The Bucs still trail the Majors with a total of 26 runs, but what they lack in quantity they've been making up for in quality: 15 of those 26 (58 percent) have come with two outs. The team's offensive walk-strikeout ratio has improved a bit since it began at an ugly 7-58, but it is still remarkable that the Bucs' total of 20 walks is half of the league average of 39 (the Nationals lead with 57). But Pittsburgh (93) no longer leads the league in whiffs, having been passed by San Diego (109), New York (99), Milwaukee (96), Arizona (95) and Chicago (94). The final word: "We feel like that was one of the toughest trips we'll have all year. Now we get to go home, regroup, and play in a place we like to play." -- Neil Walker, on the Bucs being home for a six-game stand after going 3-1 at the end of the 3-6 West swing.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.