Pirates make space for Morton, send down Hague
By JANIE McCAULEY
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Matt Hague's bosses insist he did nothing to warrant a demotion to the minors. It was just a numbers game.
The Pittsburgh Pirates made the tough call to option the emerging infielder to Triple-A Indianapolis on Saturday in order to clear room for starting pitcher Charlie Morton's return from the disabled list following offseason hip surgery.
"We had a very tough decision to make, looking at the three guys involved in that decision," manager Clint Hurdle said. "It turned out to be Matt. None of them have warranted a demotion for lack of production, lack of performance or anything like that. We tried to evaluate the entire landscape going forward - opposition, opportunity, immediate need, focus now - short-term focus, long-term focus. It's hard to sit that young man in here, tell him what you believe in, tell him why you're doing it, tell him to feel whatever he needs to feel."
Hague, who batted .111 with one hit, two RBIs and two strikeouts in nine at-bats, made the opening-day roster with a strong spring and had two starts at first base. In the minors, the plan is for him to work one series at third, then the next at first so he can be a reliable option at both positions.
Hague hit .400 with seven homers and 14 RBIs this spring.
Harrison made his third straight start Saturday night in the middle game of a weekend series at San Francisco. He played third base after getting starts at second and shortstop but was hitless in six at-bats. Navarro, who batted .311 during spring training, doesn't have a hit this season in three at-bats but drove in a run with a sacrifice fly Thursday in Los Angeles.
"This is going to be one of those moves we'll probably make frequently over the course of the season with all three guys having options left and all three guys being young guys with development left in their game," Huntington said. "At various points in the season I would fully anticipate we'll make the other move. I would not think this is a long-term move."
Hurdle said he told Hague just that.
"We don't believe this is a long-term demotion," Hurdle said. "There's a possibility this 25th-man spot could be based on need throughout the season when you've got three different types of players. I'm pulling for him, and he knows that."
Updated April 14, 2012