Lost in the hoopla of the Pittsburgh Pirates finishing the All-Star Break above .500 for the first time since 1992, is the continuing Pedro Alvarez saga. According to the Associated Press, Alvarez was optioned to AAA Indianapolis.
Alvarez has spent most of the season sidelined by an injury to his right quad. Entering Spring Training there was much discussion that Alvarez did not train hard enough (or possibly at all) in the offseason.
Make no mistake, at 47-43 the Pirates are surely sending Alvarez a message. It likely sounds something like this, "we got here without you, we can stay here without you". The extra work should help him as the team hits the All-Star Break.
Now it is up to Alvarez to prove that he has the desire to earn his spot back on what is now (or for now) a winning team. Based on descriptions, Alvarez is finally in some semblance of shape after his rehab work.
In the next two weeks the Buccos will likely want Alvarez to show that he can maintain his conditioning and also his performance level on the field. If he does that, we should see him back at the Major League level by the end of July or early August.
If not, perhaps he stays in Indianapolis longer. There has been talk of the Pirates potentially being buyers in the trade market for the first time since the 1990's.
Could a trade for a bat at first or third base affect Alvarez? In the short term, yes. Long term, this team is still committed to him because of his immense potential.
Now is the right time to send a message to him that he needs to come to the ballpark each and every day ready to be the player he was last August.
If Hurdle will bench All-Star and face of the franchise Andrew McCutchen, then the organization surely will not blink at making sure Alvarez knows that he has to "buy in" to be a part of the winning, just as the other players have.
Hopefully, Alvarez shows the front office everything they want to see in the next few weeks. Maybe he can even take a few grounders at first. You know, to make sure he stays a part of the future plans.