PITTSBURGH -- Manager Clint Hurdle has decided how he is going to handle the designated hitter during the team's upcoming Interleague swing, but he's not letting anyone in on the secret just yet.
The Pirates begin their road portion of Interleague Play on Friday with a three-game set against the Indians. Pittsburgh's only other stop in an American League ballpark will come from June 28-30 in Toronto.
Asked about DH options on Monday, Hurdle remained evasive.
"It's been firmed up, but we're not going to share it," Hurdle said. "I think we've got some options to take care of that, maximize our outfield defense as well as our infield defense. It will be a good opportunity for us to take a look at some different things and personnel, probably, in some different spots."
The Pirates have discussed the possibility of fortifying their offense by calling up Triple-A outfielder Alex Presley. If promotions were based solely on numbers, Presley, who leads the International League in this hits this season with 83, would have been up weeks ago. The reality, though, is that the Pirates have little flexibility with the outfielders already on the big league roster.
Though Matt Diaz has not been producing up to expectations, it's hard to see the Pirates letting him go, given that the right-handed-hitting outfielder is signed through 2012 at a cost of $4 million. Garrett Jones has had his share of struggles, too, though he'd be made available to every other club on waivers if taken off the roster. Xavier Paul would be in the same situation.
All this has compounded the Pirates' attempts at finding a way to add Presley.
"The reality of it is, we don't have a lot of moving pieces," Hurdle said. "We're aware of some guys who are doing well. We're giving it a little more time in a couple of different areas right now. We're trying to exhibit some patience."
Another Triple-A hitter on the Pirates' radar is infielder Chase d'Arnaud, who'd be an option to replace Josh Harrison if Harrison's oblique tightness keeps him sidelined for any length of time. d'Arnaud is batting .351 for Indianapolis this month.
Hurdle wastes no time putting McKenry to use
PITTSBURGH -- Twenty-four hours after making a Sunday-evening run to the grocery store, Michael McKenry was behind the plate, catching starter Paul Maholm in the final game of the Pirates' 10-game homestand.
That trip to the supermarket was cut short by a call from McKenry's manager at Triple-A Pawtucket, who let the 26-year-old know he had been dealt to the Pirates. The Red Sox will receive either cash or a player from the Pirates, who have been actively scouring the market for catchers since losing Ryan Doumit and Chris Snyder to injuries.
"I'm real excited to be here and feel real fortunate," McKenry said. "It's my 'little kid' dream to play big league baseball. I kind of threw all my stuff down and said, 'Let's go. I'm ready.' I wanted to get here as soon as possible and try to get in the lineup and play."
Manager Clint Hurdle wasted no time getting McKenry involved. Monday marks just the second Major League start for McKenry, who went hitless in eight at-bats with the Rockies as a September callup in 2010. Hurdle felt comfortable having McKenry break in as Maholm's batterymate given Maholm's experience and ability to call his own pitches.
McKenry made the most of his chance, catching Daniel Murphy cheating toward third base and starting a rundown.
"[Murphy] started leaning and put all his weight on one side, and I just chucked it down there," said McKenry, who also worked seamlessly with his batterymate.
"[McKenry] was great," Maholm said. "You see who is catching you, and you've never met the guy. You go introduce yourself, go over a game plan, and go out there and execute it. He was spot-on. I didn't have to shake him a whole lot."
"It's tough [learning new pitchers], but I think I'm getting pretty good at it, moving around so much," said McKenry, who was traded from Colorado to Boston on March 29. "I like the challenge, and I'm just going to spend a lot of time with these guys the next couple of days to try to learn who they are, what they like, even what they like to eat. Hopefully, [I'll] become their best friend."
The Pirates haven't made it clear how playing time will be split between McKenry and Dusty Brown. It's also uncertain how long those two will be the Pirates' catching tandem. With Jason Jaramillo on the mend in Triple-A, Hurdle confirmed that the organization is still looking to improve its catching depth. That likely means the Pirates will continue to put out feelers for backstops already at the Major League level.
Meek receives encouraging news on shoulder
PITTSBURGH -- Evan Meek received encouraging news from Dr. James Andrews, who did not find anything structurally wrong in Meek's right shoulder during an exam in Pensacola, Fla., on Monday.
Dr. Andrews confirmed the initial diagnosis of tendinitis, an injury that sent Meek to the disabled list on Friday. Meek had asked for a second opinion before continuing with his planned rehab.
Though Meek is now certain of his injury, his status is less so. The Pirates have targeted late July as a potential return date, though the strength in the shoulder will obviously dictate how quickly he can progress through the rehab process.
A few other injuries to update:
Catcher Ryan Doumit will leave for Bradenton, Fla., on Tuesday to continue his rehab at the Pirates' complex there. A followup CT scan on Monday showed that Doumit's left ankle is healing as it should. The Pirates again stated that they hope to have Doumit back in late July.
Joining Doumit in Bradenton will be infielder Steve Pearce, who is nursing a right calf strain. Pearce expects to take off his protective boot when he gets to Florida and will then slowly begin increasing his level of activity.
For the second straight day, infielder Josh Harrison (minor tightness in his right oblique) refrained from throwing or hitting. He was not available for Monday's game and likely won't be cleared for baseball activity until Wednesday. If he is going to be sidelined for more than a few days, the Pirates will need to call up another backup infielder.
McCutchen's day off doesn't last long
PITTSBURGH -- It seemed an odd choice of days to hold Andrew McCutchen out of the starting lineup, but manager Clint Hurdle had his reasons and felt strong enough to make the unpopular decision.
Hurdle has been looking to give McCutchen a breather for a while, he said, and found Monday to be the ideal time to do so given that it would maximize the time between the end of Sunday's day game and Tuesday's night game.
McCutchen did find his way into the Pirates' 3-1 win, taking over in center field in the top of the eighth and contributing a single in the bottom of the frame.
McCutchen's only other days off this season came on April 20, when he left the team to deal with a family matter, and on April 3, when he was bothered by soreness in his neck. He was also benched for a game against the Dodgers on May 12, though that contest ended up being postponed after two innings because of rain.
Triple-A Indianapolis moved above .500 for the first time this season behind a three-hit, two-RBI game from infielder Andy Marte on Sunday. Starter Justin Wilson picked up his International League-best eighth win by allowing two runs on eight hits in six innings.
Manager Clint Hurdle chimed in about the potential realignment in baseball, which is reportedly being discussed. Said Hurdle: "I think what we need to measure is how many teams have stayed in play with the Wild Card in the format that it's in versus how many teams would have the opportunity to stay in play late in the season [if there were to be realignment]. Whichever one has the opportunity to fuel the most income would seem to be the way I would go to keep more cities involved later. That's what I'm thinking right now."
Through the team's first 32 home games, the Pirates have drawn 669,637. That's an increase of more than 100,000 from last season, when they had 568,096 in attendance during the same span.
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.