Diaz shares information on former club
Outfielder returns to Atlanta for first time as opponent
ATLANTA -- Matt Diaz spoke up a little more than usual in Monday's pre-series scouting team meeting, and well, he should have. Nowhere is Diaz more familiar than here at Atlanta's Turner Field, and no opponent does he know this well.
Diaz signed a two-year deal with the Pirates this offseason following a string of five years with the Braves. He's played behind all four starting pitchers the Braves will send to the mound this week, and he offered information and observations about the four to his Pittsburgh teammates before the start of a key road series.
"I got to sit on the bench a fair bunch and watch their pitchers over the last few years," Diaz said. "I have seen approaches that work better than others against them and hopefully I can give some espionage secrets."
Though Diaz has played 252 of his 634 career games at Turner Field, Monday marked his first stop over to the visitor's clubhouse. The return was a welcome one for Diaz, who was a fan and media favorite in Atlanta for years. He got a good chuckle, too, when a bellman at the team hotel came up to him on Sunday night and said, "You used to be Matt Diaz with the Braves."
Diaz jokingly assured the man that while he may a wear different uniform, he hasn't changed his identity.
"I had a good relationship with the fans here," Diaz said. "I came in as an unknown and it took a while to win them. This was a positive chapter in our life. I'm definitely glad we're on the next chapter, but we definitely enjoyed the chapter that was here.
"It's going to be a lot of fun for me to be back here, but I have to remember why we're here, and that's to win baseball games and get closer to our ultimate goal."
Presley to DL with left thumb contusion
ATLANTA -- The Pirates placed outfielder Alex Presley on the 15-day disabled list on Monday with a left thumb contusion and recalled third baseman Pedro Alvarez from Triple-A to take Presley's spot on the 25-man roster.
Presley, who did not travel with the team to Atlanta, had noted that the injury had to do with a nerve issue in his thumb. The Pirates' inability to determine a timeline on how long Presley might be sidelined forced the club to make the roster move.
"We're really not in a position to play short," manager Clint Hurdle said. "Obviously, we're going to need to add more offense since one of our more offensive players has just been put on the DL."
The timing is, of course, not ideal for Presley, who was faring well and earning everyday playing time with the Pirates. Since being promoted to Pittsburgh on June 28, Presley had hit .333 with eight extra-base hits, nine RBIs, four stolen bases and 12 runs scored in 20 games. Also, he was a natural fit to fill the Pirates' need for a leadoff hitter.
With Presley out indefinitely, the Pirates still have five outfielders to shuffle around. Xavier Paul filled in for Presley in left and in the leadoff spot on Monday. While Andrew McCutchen will obviously continue to play every day, Hurdle will mix-and-match with Paul, Steve Pearce, Matt Diaz and Garrett Jones in the two corner outfield spots.
The loss of Presley could also heighten the Pirates' attempts to nab a corner outfielder before Sunday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline.
No timetable for Ohlendorf's return from DL
ATLANTA -- The Pirates remain mum on a timeline for Ross Ohlendorf's return, though he is taking encouraging steps forward in his return from a right shoulder posterior strain.
Ohlendorf threw 69 pitches (44 strikes) in a 4 2/3-inning appearance for Double-A Altoona on Sunday. It marked Ohlendorf's third rehab start, but first above the Class A Advanced level. Though the righty gave up two earned runs on five hits, he showed crisp command, particularly against right-handed hitters, and maintained his velocity throughout the start. His slider was also sharp.
He will throw a bullpen session on Tuesday, after which the Pirates will determine the next step for Ohlendorf.
"My arm felt good," said Ohlendorf, who was placed on the disabled list the second week of the season. "The two months in Florida weren't very fun. I feel good now and I feel like I have been able to work on some things that will both help me stay healthy and help with my command."
Those include both mechanical and mental adjustments. Mechanically, Ohlendorf has lowered his arm slot and lessened his head movement in an effort to reduce the strain on his right shoulder, which has now had injury issues for two seasons. On the mental side, Ohlendorf has returned with the intent of pitching more to contact.
"The mentality of not pitching to contact really hurt me in Spring Training," said Ohlendorf. "I was trying to get swings and misses instead of letting them put it in play."
Though the Pirates are stretching Ohlendorf out to be a starter, there might not be room for him in the rotation when he is ready to return. Jeff Karstens assumed Ohlendorf's spot back in April and is not in position to give it back now. The Pirates could consider putting Ohlendorf in the bullpen.
"I like starting, but if they want me to go to the bullpen, I'll do that," Ohlendorf said.
Outfielder Jose Tabata reported that his left leg felt good on Monday as he tested it during some light on-field workouts. In addition to doing some working out his left quad with some shuffles, Tabata spent time in the weight room and trainer's room. He is expected to remain with the team for workouts this week before resuming his rehab assignment.
In his first four rehab games with Class A Advanced Bradenton, Ryan Doumit has gone 2-for-11 with two walks and three strikeouts.
This series opener between the Braves and Pirates was scheduled to be the first Monday night game televised on ESPN since 2002. In addition to having two Saturday games against the Brewers picked up for FOX's national telecast next month, the Pirates-Phillies game on Friday will be shown on MLB Network.
Friday's pitching matchup has Charlie Morton set to face Roy Halladay. That's intriguing, of course, simply because of the number of comments made this year about how much Morton's new pitching motion emulates that of Halladay.
Monday's game marked the 100th for the Pirates this season. Manager Clint Hurdle has led the Pirates to 52 wins so far, making him the first manager since Chuck Tanner (1977) to win 52 of the first 99 games in his first season at the helm.
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.