The Pirates' medical staff cleared Alvarez for use as a pinch-hitter on Sunday after watching him do some running and take ground balls at third base. The club has not given any indication on when they believe Alvarez might be ready to return to the starting lineup.â†µ
If the Pirates can stay away from having to use Alvarez off the bench, they would maintain the option of putting Alvarez on the DL, retroactive to May 4, if such a move becomes necessary.â†µ
Of course, Alvarez has looked thoroughly lost for most of the season - he has four times as many strikeouts as walks, he only has one homer all year, and he has routinely gotten into 0-and-2 counts. Whether or not it would be a good idea for the Pirates to use him as a pinch-hitter in a close game is an open question. But it's good to see he doesn't appear to be badly hurt - the sooner the Bucs can get him back full-time and get him in a groove, the better. They may sacrifice runs in the short term, as Alvarez tries to find his stroke, but the Pirates need him to start producing, and the only way to do that is to let him play.