7/12/2013 7:20 P.M. ET
Pirates glad Alvarez will get his shot in Derby
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
PITTSBURGH -- To Pedro Alvarez, the 2013 Chevrolet Home Run Derby is "just BP, right?" which could be a good thing because, to his Pirates teammates, nobody takes batting practice quite like Alvarez, who belted a two-run homer in his first at-bat Friday night against the Mets.
"He should've been doing it the whole time," Pittsburgh and National League All-Star teammate Jeff Locke said of Alvarez, who was added to the NL Derby foursome when Carlos Gonzalez chose to withdraw with a finger injury. "It would have been a disservice to Major League Baseball had he not been in the Home Run Derby.
"A lot of guys take impressive BP," Locke added, "but his is the most impressive I've ever seen. I'm really happy for him."
Andrew McCutchen, a Derby participant last year, had only one piece of advice for Alvarez:
"Don't try to hit 500-foot home runs. Just go with a nice-and-easy swing -- and pull the heck out of them.
"He has a home run swing. It's what he does. He's gonna go up there and do something he knows how to do," said McCutchen, who scoffed at the popular perception that Derby participation can foul up one's swing. "That's bogus, the way I look at it. In batting practice every single day, we have rounds where all we try to do is hit home runs. People always say a bunch of bogus stuff: 'It messes up your swing.' Ah, no."
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle was glad to hear that things broke right for Alvarez to get the Derby spot many felt should have been his to begin with.
"I was like, 'Yeah!' Everybody got to gyrate and throw their hands in the air and fire off their angst, and now it's on," Hurdle said. "He understands this is an opportunity, and it's good. The point I'll try to drive home to him is, it's more about experience than performance. Don't set expectations. Embrace it."
Canzler acquired by Pirates in trade with Orioles
PITTSBURGH -- Acquiring another of general manager Neal Huntington's favorite commodities -- a right-handed hitter with punch capable of playing a corner in either the infield or the outfield -- the Pirates on Friday landed Russ Canzler from the Orioles in exchange for right-hander Tim Alderson.
The Pirates immediately optioned Canzler to Triple-A Indianapolis, but also tipped off their eventual plans by clearing space for him on the 40-man roster by transferring pitcher James McDonald to the 60-day disabled list.
In Canzler, a 27-year-old Pennsylvania native who has spent 29 games of his decade in pro ball in the Majors, the Bucs may have acquired this year's Drew Sutton or perhaps someone with more staying power.
Sutton spent a couple of months with the Pirates last season as a right-handed complement to Garrett Jones. Jerry Sands, another player who fits the same profile, was included in the foursome acquired from Boston in the offseason deal of Joel Hanrahan.
The Pirates obviously will be evaluating Canzler as a bench option over Brandon Inge on the other side of the All-Star break.
"He's a right-handed-hitting corner option. He can play multiple positions," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of Canzler, who had 11 homers and 49 RBIs in 86 games with Norfolk, the Orioles' Triple-A affiliate. "He's a guy who's had some success with the bat. He's comfortable at first base, but we'll try him in right field and third base, too. We'll see how versatile we can get him and see how the bat plays."
Canzler, from Hazleton -- about 200 miles east of Pittsburgh -- has handled himself well in two brief big league stints, in 2011 with Tampa Bay and last season with Cleveland. In 96 at-bats, he hit .269 with three homers and 12 RBIs.
Alderson, a 2007 No. 1 Draft pick by the Giants, had a 2.43 ERA in 29 relief appearances between Double-A Altoona and Indianapolis.
Bucs have agreed to terms with 28 of 41 Draft picks
PITTSBURGH -- The deadline for Major League teams to sign selections in last month's First-Year Player Draft passed at 5 p.m. ET on Friday, with the Pirates scoring nearly 70 percent.
The Bucs had come to terms with 28 of their 41 selections. That includes, significantly, each of their their top 20 picks, headlined by the two first-round choices -- outfielder Austin Meadows, taken with the overall No. 9 pick, and catcher Reese McGuire, at No. 14.
Meadows and McGuire, between them, received $5,398,600 of the estimated total of $9 million of bonuses awarded by the Pirates.
• Hurdle acknowledged that the Pirates, as is customary for most teams, are likely to tweak their starting rotation around the All-Star break. The four-day layoff, for instance, would actually allow Locke to start consecutive games on Sunday and then Friday.
"There could be some small shuffling. It's important not to have too many gaps [in individuals' throwing schedules] if we can avoid it," said Hurdle, who will take into consideration that the Bucs will open second-half play in Cincinnati in lining up the starters.
• Starling Marte (103 hits entering Friday night's game) and McCutchen (100) are the first Pirates teammates to take 100-plus hits into the All-Star break since 1979, when Omar Moreno had 110 and Dave Parker had 102.
First number, last word
4.87 -- Alvarez's at-bats per RBI this season, entering Friday, the third-best ratio in the NL.
"I haven't pitched against them this season, so I think it's even more of an honor. Talk around the league travels and guys exchange reports and come up with what they like -- so it's an honor to be picked like that." -- Locke, on his reputation landing him on the NL All-Star team as a pick by manager Bruce Bochy, even though he has not pitched against Bochy's Giants.
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.