HOUSTON -- Manager John Russell, who has long envisioned Andrew McCutchen as permanently settling into the leadoff role, moved his center fielder back there on Wednesday.
McCutchen reclaimed the batting order's top spot, which had belonged to left fielder Jose Tabata since the Pirates called Tabata up from Triple-A the second week of June. Tabata, in turn, moved down to hit second, and Neil Walker slotted into the No. 3 hole.
Russell's main objective in shuffling the top three hitters was to get McCutchen -- owner of a team-best .376 on-base percentage this year -- back on top. McCutchen hit leadoff in all 108 games he played during his rookie season. Wednesday will be just his 13th time there this season.
"I like him there and I think he likes being there," Russell said. "Just a little bit of a change to see if the top of the order -- which has done really well for us -- can continue that with a little different dynamic."
Tabata has become comfortable hitting first after filling the leadoff spot in Triple-A even before being promoted to the Majors. However, Russell expects Tabata to thrive batting behind McCutchen, particularly because of Tabata's ability to move McCutchen from first to third more easily by hitting to the right side of the field.
Morris added to Futures Game roster
HOUSTON -- Pitching prospect Bryan Morris, who was surprisingly missing from the initial All-Star Futures Game roster, was added to the U.S. team on Wednesday.
Morris was one of two pitchers added to the U.S. roster after Dan Hudson (White Sox) and Jarred Cosart (Phillies) had to come off.
Morris, 23, is certainly deserving of the opportunity. He started the year with Class A Bradenton and posted a 0.60 ERA while going 3-0 in eight starts. At the time of his promotion to Double-A Altoona in mid-May, Morris' ERA was the lowest among all Minor League starters.
Since joining Altoona's rotation, Morris has gone 4-3 with a 3.66 ERA. In the right-hander's 96 1/3 combined innings, Morris has struck out 90 and walked 25. All of Morris' 2010 success comes on the heels of a disappointing '09 campaign in which he went 4-9 with a 5.57 ERA in 15 Class A starts.
The Pirates' other representative for the Futures Game, which will be played at Angel Stadium this Sunday at 6 p.m. ET, is Gorkys Hernandez. The 22-year-old outfielder is also currently with Altoona.
Left-hander Nathan Baker threw eight no-hit innings for Class A West Virginia on Tuesday before having to be removed because his pitch count reached 95. Baker, who was the organization's fifth-round pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, struck out a career-high eight in the outing and retired each of the last 20 hitters he faced. ... Also on Tuesday, Minor League outfielder Exicardo Cayonez went 7-for-7 for the Gulf Coast League Pirates. Cayonez, 18, is hitting .451 with six doubles, 12 RBIs and 11 runs scored in his first 13 games. ... Jeff Clement, Brandon Moss and Aki Iwamura all went deep in Triple-A Indianapolis' win on Tuesday. Clement finished the game with three hits, two RBIs and three runs scored. Moss went 2-for-5 with two runs scored and three RBIs. ... Third baseman Pedro Alvarez entered Wednesday having hit safely in eight consecutive starts. His batting average has climbed from .132 to .212 during that span.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.