PITTSBURGH -- Evan Meek will take his next step forward in his return from right shoulder tendinitis on Wednesday when he gets on the PNC Park bullpen mound.
Meek is scheduled to throw a side session -- his first since he pitched on April 26 -- after having tested his shoulder through several days of long toss. The right-hander threw from a distance of 120 feet on flat ground on Tuesday and said afterward that he felt great.
Assuming there are no setbacks on Wednesday, Meek said he expects to join the team during its upcoming series in Milwaukee and throw a second bullpen session there. The Pirates' plan is to then send Meek out on a short Minor League rehab stint, which will allow him to make a few appearances before being reinstated.
Right-hander Kevin Hart (right shoulder surgery) is progressing through his rehab without any issue, as well. Hart said he will throw live batting practice later this week. He'll have at least two such sessions before being sent to extended Spring Training or on a Minor League rehab assignment to complete his progression back.
Hart, who is on the 60-day disabled list, is not eligible to come off until May 30 or later.
Hurdle sees benefits in replay expansion
PITTSBURGH -- To expand or not to expand? It's a question that has pitted baseball purists against technology advocates for years and was a debate to which Pirates manager Clint Hurdle contributed his thoughts on Tuesday.
The topic was a fitting one for Hurdle's pregame media session, given that less than 24 hours earlier his club had greatly benefited from a missed call. With the game tied in the eighth, third base umpire Mike DiMuro mistakenly ruled that outfielder Jose Tabata caught a sinking liner to left. Tabata then fired to first to complete a double play.
Replays clearly showed that the ball skipped into Tabata's glove. Instead of having runners on the corners and no outs, the Dodgers were left with two outs, two ejections and no-one on base.
Hurdle did not express a desire for widespread change, but he did cite some benefits in having Major League Baseball at least look into the possibility of increasing its replay technology.
"I think we live in a society that is enamored with technology," said Hurdle, who has had discussions with Joe Torre, MLB's executive vice president of baseball operations, on this subject. "I also think that part of what makes sports sports is a human element. I think we're taking steps along the lines to move smartly, along with caution, that we don't get outside ourselves and lose the human element.
"What I would like to see done is if there are thoughts about moving forward, just gauge the plays that happen during the course of the season. Take it like you would a lab experiment. How many of the similar plays are happening?"
The Associated Press reported earlier this season that MLB was leaning toward expanding the use of instant replay beginning next season. The report cited fair-or-foul calls and trapped balls as two areas that would likely be covered in an expansion.
MLB instituted replay for home run calls -- fair or foul, in or out, fan interference -- late in the 2008 season. Ironically enough, prior to the disputed call in the eighth inning, the Pirates had a double by Garrett Jones upheld by replay on Monday night.
"I'm happy with the game," Hurdle said. "You're definitely going to feel like you've been violated when a break doesn't go your way. It's also part of the sport in every sport. You have human beings involved all over the place."
Alvarez back on bench Tuesday
PITTSBURGH -- Pedro Alvarez was back on the bench for Tuesday's game against the Dodgers, even though he was cleared to return to the lineup on Monday. This time, though, Alvarez's absence had nothing to do with injury.
"Personally, I feel good," said Alvarez, who had been sidelined with right quad tightness. "I'll be available as needed."
Added manager Clint Hurdle: "He's healthy. He's absolutely healthy."
Rather, the decision to keep Alvarez out was prompted by Los Angeles sending lefty Ted Lilly to the mound. As Alvarez works himself out of an early season offensive funk, the Pirates would prefer that he do it against right-handers, who have always been easier for Alvarez to hit.
Alvarez, who should be back in the lineup on Wednesday, showed no signs of having any lingering issues with his right leg on Monday. Though he finished 0-for-3, Alvarez made three above-average defensive plays, including a terrific diving stop and throw to end the Pirates' 4-1 win.
At the plate, Alvarez has only five hits in his last 32 at-bats. His season average has dipped to .206.
"I'm very optimistic that I'm feeling a lot better," Alvarez said. "I think it's just a matter of time. With not playing for a couple of days, I was able to work on some specifics. The number one thing is just continuing to work. It pays off."
Bucs honor vendor with moment of silence
PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates honored long-time vendor Kenny Geidel with a moment of silence prior to Tuesday's game against the Dodgers. Geidel, who sold food and drinks at Pirates, Steelers and Penguins games for more than two decades, died on Monday. He was 64.
"We at the Pirates family are saddened by the passing of Kenny Geidel," Pirates owner Bob Nutting said in a statement. "Kenny, like all of our dedicated employees, is part of the fabric of the PNC Park experience. While all of us fans will always remember Kenny's famous vending calls while roaming the stands as far back as Three Rivers Stadium in the mid 80's, he was also a dedicated family man."
Geidel's unique calls when selling lemonade, coke, cotton candy and other ballpark staples made him a part of the sporting experience. Geidel was very much a fixture in the Pittsburgh sports scene, and he was at PNC Park as recently as Sunday.
"My first year, I found him early on, and every game since then, I'd find him," Pirates starter Paul Maholm said. "You could see how hard he worked and how much he enjoyed his job. It's sad to know he's not going to be there, but hopefully the team can find a way to honor him. I wish I would have gotten to meet him."
The Pirates have to make a decision on Wednesday about where to send right-hander Jose Ascanio, who has finished his Minor League rehab assignment. Indications are that Ascanio will be joining the Pirates' bullpen, largely because he is out of options and would have to be put on waivers in order to be assigned to Triple-A. "Sometimes you make [a move so] that you don't lose anybody and you take a look at the guy that you need to take a look at," manager Clint Hurdle said.
If Ascanio is added to the 'pen, the Pirates must take somebody out. Hurdle said no such decision has been finalized, but he did add that lefty Daniel Moskos is someone who he would "like to take a longer look at." If Moskos stays, Mike Crotta is likely to be the odd man out.
For the third straight day, Hurdle inserted catcher Ryan Doumit into the starting lineup. Chris Snyder is still considered the team's primary catcher, but Doumit has been too hot at the plate to take out. He is hitting .462 against lefties this year and overall has batted .333 with 11 RBIs in his last 15 games.
With Jose Tabata mired in an 8-for-63 skid since April 16, Hurdle said he has been giving thought to moving Tabata out of the No. 2 spot in the lineup. No changes have been made yet, but the discussions are ongoing. Not only would Hurdle have to determine where Tabata could fit lower in the batting order, but he'd also have to figure out who would fit well batting behind Andrew McCutchen.
Playing in his second game with Triple-A Indianapolis, John Bowker hit a two-run homer in Monday's game. Outfielder Andrew Lambo also had a two-run blast in Indianapolis' win.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.