Pirates Option Hague to Triple-A; Activate Morton

The Pittsburgh Pirates optioned infielder Matt Hague to Triple-A Indianapolis in order to make room on the 25-man roster for right-hander Charlie Morton.

Morton, 28, will start for the Bucs against the San Francisco Giants tonight at 9:05 p.m. ET at AT&T Park. The right-hander will be making his 2012 debut after starting the season on the disabled list (off season left hip surgery). During Morton’s last rehab start with Triple-A Indy, Morton allowed one run on six hits over 7.2 innings. He walked one and struck out eight batters while throwing 98 pitches.

The club decided to carry an extra infielder, rather than extra arm in the bullpen to start the season in place of Morton on the active roster. With optioning Hague to Triple-A, Josh Harrison and Yamaico Navarro will remain the two infield bench/utility players.

Hague, 26, has made two starts at first base and went 1-for-9 (.111 avg) with two RBI over five games. Hague picked up his first Major League hit and RBI on Sunday at PNC Park against the Philadelphia Phillies. Hague led the club in batting (.400) and home runs (7) during Grapefruit League action this spring.


— According to Karen Price of the Trib, General Manager Neal Huntington said on Hague, “He doesn’t need to change a thing, just keep getting better defensively on both corners.”

— Hague will see time in Indy at both first and third base according to Michael Sanserino of the Post-Gazette, “Hague will split his time in AAA between 3B and 1B, potentially switching every series or every two series.”

–Some notes from Manager Clint Hurdle on Hague during a pregame interview on 93.7 the fan:

  • Hurdle said the decision to send Hague to Triple-A wasn’t easy. It was something that he along with input from the coaches, Huntington, front office, went over for three days.
  • Hurdle said they looked at different scenarios, lefty starters they would be facing, what the team needed right now.
  • Hurdle said there was nothing that Hague did to warrant a demotion.
  • Hurdle said that they wanted to give others more time (He didn’t mention names, but you would assume Pedro Alvarez, Garrett Jones, etc.). If they don’t swing the bat 10 days from now, two weeks from now, etc. Hurdle said they will reevaluate the situation.
  • Hague also needed to get some more at-bats, Hurdle said. The infielder made just two starts over the first seven games, and three pinch-hit at-bats. Hague played in 141 games with Triple-A in 2011, which was the most in the International League.

“He’s a good hitter, I believe he will hit in the big leagues,” Hurdle said. “We’ll see Matt Hague again [in the Majors] not a doubt in my mind.” Hurdle said it was really hard to tell him the news today about sending him down to Triple-A.

  • You have to feel for Hague, though.  He was hitting so well in Spring Training and he only got two starts out of that.  I understand that he is not going to be a prototypical first or third basemen, but I feel like he deserved more of a look that what he got.  Maybe McGhee, Jones, or Alvarez will spend some time on the DL and he can get a shot.

  • Hate the move. Pedro “DESERVED” the demotion, he has options send him down and let him struggle there. 

    This is why the losing continues.. Paycheck should not determine playing time. 

    • It’s still a very small sample size. Alvarez needs to learn to adjust to Major League pitching. Hague needs to be playing everyday. It’s not helping him by getting a few pinch-hit at-bats. He’s not a utility guy. He has the talent to be an everyday Major League first baseman. If Jones/ Alvarez keep struggling, I can see Matt getting called up to be everyday 1B with Jones to the bench and a McGehee/Alvarez platoon. 

      • With all due respect Kristy how much time does Pedro need to learn to adjust to MLB pitching?  He’s had 1 good month of baseball and since then 281 atbats of terrible baseball including a stretch this season where he’s struck out 12 times in 19 atbats with his lone hit being a home run.  He’s striking out at a pace where if he accumulates 500 atbats this year he’d generate 316 strikeouts.  I think he could use a little bit of time in the minors.

        Also with respect to Hague, I’m sure it wouldn’t be hard for Hurdle to allow McGehee to play at 3b the majority of the time while having Hague get 3-5 starts a week at 1b and 3b.  Jones can’t hit LHP and Tabata hasn’t hit thus far it shouldn’t be that hard to find atbats for a hit man or whatever Hurdle calls Hague.

    •  If paycheck did determine playing time why would Alvarez be starting? Jones and McGehee are making more than him this season so wouldn’t they be starting at the corners?