8/3/2014 4:31 P.M. ET
Pirates add Nix as new utility man
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- The Pirates added to their collection of former first-round Draft choices on Sunday, signing versatile free agent Jayson Nix.
The 31-year-old journeyman, who had exercised the out-option in his contract with Tampa Bay the day before, was in-house and in uniform No. 27 for Sunday's series finale with Arizona.
"He'll spot start," manager Clint Hurdle said. "Plays all four infield positions and both corners of the outfield. He is a right-handed bat with some barrel. I think we got better with his addition."
Nix, then, essentially is Josh Harrison 2.0. The original now becomes the everyday third baseman, as the club considers the immediate future of a struggling Pedro Alvarez.
Nix was a No. 1 pick by Colorado in the 2001 First-Year Player Draft -- he broke in playing for Hurdle's Rockies in 2008 -- and becomes the seventh former first-round choice on the current 40-man roster.
The younger brother of Laynce Nix, Jayson played 18 games with the Phillies earlier this season and was batting .274 in 54 games with Durham, the Rays' Triple-A affiliate in the International League.
"I'm pretty comfortable pretty much everywhere I play," Nix said. "I'm aware this club has been playing well, and I'm very excited to join a team that's in the race."
To clear room for Nix on the 25-man roster, Brent Morel was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis in the wake of his three-RBI game in Saturday night's 8-3 win over the D-backs. Infielder Dean Anna, claimed on waivers from the Yankees a month ago, was designated for assignment to open a spot on the 40-man roster.
Bucs mulling a move to first base for Alvarez
PHOENIX -- After another unfortunate night at third base for Pedro Alvarez, Pirates brass at least is considering the possibility that the hot corner may have gotten too hot for the defending National League home run co-king.
Before being pulled in the seventh inning of a tie game Saturday night, Alvarez had committed his 22nd throwing error of the season, and also threw two others balls into the dirt saved from errors by first baseman Ike Davis.
Manager Clint Hurdle said Sunday morning that club officials are "having conversations" about moving Alvarez across the infield to first base.
"I'm still involved in some discussions," Hurdle said. "Hypothetically, is [a position switch] something you entertain during a pennant race?"
Assistant general manager Kyle Stark is here in person, and Hurdle also spoke by telephone with GM Neal Huntington.
For immediate purposes, Josh Harrison has moved in as the primary player at third base, a position where he made his 14th start of the season on Sunday.
Hurdle was not prepared to project beyond Sunday, however.
"I can't get into that, because we don't know if Pedro has been unplugged (from the position)," Hurdle said. "Pedro aside -- Harrison is the best defender on our club now at third base."
It's not just the glove, of course. Alvarez last homered on July 11, while Harrison had five homers in the first nine games of the road trip that concluded with Sunday's game. Harrison also drove in 11 runs between Alvarez's last RBIs on July 11 and Friday night.
• Starling Marte (concussion list) was set to play nine innings with Indianapolis on Sunday in his second rehab game, after going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts Saturday night.
• Gerrit Cole's (sore latissimus) Saturday bullpen pleased everyone involved, and the Pirates are now putting their heads together to decide his next step.
• Neil Walker (lower-back tightness) stayed out of Sunday's lineup again, with hopes two games off followed by Monday's off-day would add up to the sufficient rest. More than anything, Walker blamed the soft bed at the team hotel for triggering the tightness that led to being scratched from Saturday's lineup.
• Clint Barmes (strained left groin) could go on rehab assignment before the Bucs complete their upcoming eight-game homestand.
• Pitcher Vance Worley had an eight-inch diameter purple bruise -- a "badge of courage" -- on his right butt cheek, courtesy of Didi Gregorius' line drive in the sixth inning of his start Saturday night.
First number, last word
34-21: The Pirates' record at PNC Park -- site of their next eight games -- the best home record in the National League.
"I may not be too big but, if you throw me the right pitch, I can hit 6-foot-4." - 5-foot-8 Josh Harrison, who in the last week has more extra-base hits (five homers, four doubles, one triple) than any other Major Leaguer.
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.