Life After Littlefield: Pirates make some roster moves; call up Lambo, sign Shoppach


Jarrod Blumer, Contributor

After literally getting beaten up by the Rockies, the Pirates decided to makes a couple of roster moves as they head into St. Louis for 3 games starting on Tuesday.

In Saturday’s 6-4 loss to Colorado, we saw Pedro Alvarez get cleated on the back of his left hand by Dexter Fowler when Fowler slid into third base.  Pedro finished the game, striking out to end the game against Colorado closer Rex Brothers, and played yesterday as well.  It seems like Pedro is just fine, as in his first at-bat Sunday he took Rockies’ starter Chad Bettis to Souvenir City for his league-leading 28th homerun of the year.  Also in Saturday’s loss, Starling Marte was hit by a pitch on his left hand and was forced to leave the game.  It was said to be just a contusion, which left many fans breathing a sigh of relief because losing Marte for the rest of the season with a broken hand could have been devastating to the Pirates.

However when the news broke that the Pirates intend to call-up Triple-A outfielder Andrew Lambo, it left many people wondering if Marte will be placed on the 15-day DL, as the Pirates will be forced to remove someone from the 25-man roster to accommodate the Lambo call-up.  The Pirates do not have to place Marte on the DL; they could always send outfielder Alex Presley or infielder/outfielder and recently pitcher Josh Harrison to Triple-A to clear a spot for Lambo.  Either way it will be very exciting to see if Lambo can continue to polish his power stroke with the big club after leading the minors with 31 HR this season.

Another interesting facet of Lambo’s game is that he isn’t just your typical three true outcome  (HR, K, BB) player.  He has hit for a decent average this year (.291 in Double-A, .278 in Triple-A), and has a solid on-base percentage for a slugging outfielder (.351 in Double-A, .350 in Triple-A).  If he is capable of producing those kind of numbers for the Pirates down the stretch, he really gives manager Clint Hurdle some flexibility with how he fills out his lineup card and how he uses his bench late in games.

The Pirates also signed 33-year-old catcher Kelly Shoppach to a minor league deal this afternoon.  He will report to Triple-A Indy and will more than likely be brought up on Sept 1st when the rosters expand for catching depth and a bench bat.  Shoppach has played sparingly throughout his career, serving mostly as a back up. However when given the chance to play on a somewhat consistent basis, Shoppach has shown some power (21 HR in 112 G in 2008) and is a serviceable hitter when it comes to facing left-handed pitching (career .466 SLG versus LHP).

The Pirates are off tonight but have another important series with the Cardinals starting tomorrow night.  Look for Pedro to put the team on his back in this series, as he has feasted off of St. Louis pitching in his career.