Bucs rookies are making an impact
Russell pleased with talented trio of young hitters
PITTSBURGH -- Pirates manager John Russell knew Pedro Alvarez, Jose Tabata and Neil Walker would go through some growing pains. But he also knew the reason there was so much hype surrounding the recently recalled Minor Leaguers -- they can play.
It's why Russell is not surprised that the trio has combined to hit .340 (18-for-53) with 15 RBIs, 13 runs and two home runs entering Wednesday's game against the Brewers.
"It's a very talented bunch," the skipper said. "It's not just some young guys we called up that we hoped would do some good things. We knew at some point they were going to do very good things. We have to be cautious, [they're] hitting their stride. The stride's going to last hopefully a long time, but they are still going to go through some adjustments and they'll do some very good things."
Alvarez is 6-for-15 with two home runs, six RBIs and four runs; Tabata is 6-for-19 with five RBIs and five runs; and Walker is 12-for-19 with four RBIs and four runs.
Walker, whose 41 games is the most of the three, has been the most consistent of the newcomers and feels the overall success of an offense that has recorded 53 hits over the last four games is having a contagious effect on the young trio.
"They believe in themselves and they know that their abilities here are going to take them and help us win some games," Walker said of Alvarez and Tabata. "In the Minor Leagues, it's a lot more about personal development -- working on your swing and things like that. And when you get here, when game time comes around, when 7 o'clock comes around, it's time to compete and time to win."
-- Matt Fortuna
Bullpen getting its share of work
PITTSBURGH -- Though they have won three of five games since the All-Star break, the Pirates had to rely heavily on the bullpen to seal those victories.
Manager John Russell called on his relievers for 6 2/3 innings in Tuesday's win, upping the bullpen's inning count in the last five days to 21 1/3. That total could be much higher, too, had starter Paul Maholm not gone the distance in his outing on Sunday. And as it is, it's only two fewer innings than have been logged by the starters.
Evan Meek, Brendan Donnelly and Javier Lopez have each pitched four of the last five days, while Joel Hanrahan and D.J. Carrasco have appeared three times. Carrasco has logged the most innings with seven.
To this point, though, Russell said he has no concerns about the sudden heavy workload of some of the team's most valuable late-inning arms.
"We can't keep doing it, but so far, no," Russell said. "The guys have still gotten their rest. We go around and talk to them. They're pretty honest. We've got a pretty good feel for our guys now. We know how much rest they need, how much you can push them."
Lopez currently leads the club with 45 appearances, though his 34 1/3 innings of work are less than that of Carrasco, Meek, Hanrahan and Octavio Dotel. Meek and Carrasco currently rank second in the National League with 52 2/3 relief innings.
"We monitor pretty well," Russell said. "Knowing our guys and what they're capable of, and what we can push them to, and what they're going to ask us to push him to, that's just something with the way you handle your bullpen."
Tabata's wife pleads guilty to numerous charges
PITTSBURGH -- Amalia Tabata Pereira, the estranged wife of Pirates outfielder Jose Tabata, has plead guilty to charges of kidnapping, interference with custody and impersonating a public officer, the Associated Press reported. Pereira entered the guilty plea in a Hillsborough (Fla.) Circuit Court on Wednesday.
The charges stem from a March 2009 incident in which authorities say Pereira, 44, posed as an immigration officer and threatened a woman in Plant City, Fla., with deportation if she didn't hand over her baby. The woman complied, giving her 2-month-old girl to Pereira.
Pereira then drove the baby to Bradenton, Fla., and presented the infant to Tabata, claiming that it was her own. She had been faking a pregnancy for months. The baby was returned to her family the next day, and Tabata was quickly cleared of having any knowledge of the abduction plan.
Tabata, 21, cut off communication with Pereira immediately after the incident and the two still do not speak. A Pirates spokesperson confirmed on Wednesday that Tabata is currently working with his attorneys to finalize a divorce.
According to the AP, Pereira is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 30.
Pirates manager John Russell said the soreness in Andrew McCutchen's right shoulder is more pinpointed, but the center fielder still can't throw or swing and remains day-to-day. Wednesday marked the third straight game McCutchen missed since leaving Sunday's game in the eighth inning after suffering a sprained AC joint making a diving catch. ... Ryan Doumit batted seventh and started at catcher on Wednesday after sitting out Tuesday because of a foul ball he took off his mask on Monday. Russell said the club found no evidence that Doumit was making himself more susceptible to taking hits on the head with his tactics behind the plate. "Unfortunately he's gotten dinged a few more times than I've seen most catchers get dinged," Russell said. "I can't explain it." ... Right-hander Diego Moreno has been reinstated after serving a team-enforced suspension for unprofessional conduct. He is cleared to return to the field immediately, but will do so with Class A Bradenton. As part of the disciplinary process, the Pirates demoted Moreno to Bradenton, where he will have to re-earn his spot at Double-A Altoona. ... Double-A right-hander Anthony Claggett (right shoulder tendinitis) was placed on the disabled list, retroactive to July 19. ... Bradenton right-hander Michael Colla was promoted to Altoona.
-- Matt Fortuna
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Matt Fortuna is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.