LOS ANGELES -- It was only batting practice, but Pedro Alvarez on Wednesday went boldly where few have gone officially.Alvarez leaned into a batting-practice pitch and sent it over Don Drysdale's retired No. 53 logo, atop the roof of Dodger Stadium's right-field pavilion, and into the parking lot. Only three men have ever hit home runs completely out of Dodger Stadium, which is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its opening: Willie Stargell, twice, and Mark McGwire and Mike Piazza, once each. The Dodgers' media guide credits another right-handed batter with the feat, Matt Holliday, when he was with the Rockies. But some eyewitnesses dispute that, claiming Holliday's 2006 drive did not clear the stadium. "That's just tangible evidence of Pedro's power," said Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle.
Hurdle overhauls lineup vs. lefty Capuano
LOS ANGELES -- This must have been Clint Hurdle's cold-weather West Coast lineup, with nighttime temperatures in Chavez Ravine expected to dip to a very un-Southern Californian 51.But more likely, it was the Pirates manager's cold-hitting alternative lineup. Trying to get their teams out of an offensive slump, some managers might tinker with their lineups, but Hurdle went all the way to blowing his up for Thursday night's game against the Dodgers. Josh Harrison (at second), Yamaico Navarro (in left) and Michael McKenry (catching) all got in there against Los Angeles lefty Chris Capuano. McKenry has started once, but it will be the first start for the other two. Among them, the trio brings a total of six at-bats into the game. "We need to get them involved," Hurdle said of Harrison and Navarro. "They've been giving us good at-bats, just like [rookie Matt] Hague -- without the fanfare." Hague remained on the bench, with Casey McGehee playing first as third baseman Pedro Alvarez got his first start against a southpaw. "Pedro had a couple of pretty good at-bats [Wednesday] night. With [right-hander Matt] Cain [on Friday, starting for the Giants], it's a chance to bundle some at-bats for Pedro, to see if he can move forward," Hurdle said. The shakeup is understandable, considering the Bucs entered the game having scored an MLB-low nine runs in their first five games. The mutual starts of Harrison and Navarro were also intriguing because of the perception that they could have been playing for a roster spot once Charlie Morton is activated, as expected, in time to start Saturday's game in San Francisco. However, Hurdle strongly implied the club had already decided on the move to make room for Morton. "Upon Charlie's return, we're not going to carry the extra position player," the manager said. "We have some idea of what we need to do. We're not trying them [Harrison and Navarro] out anymore. This was just an opportunity to get them on the field and two, three at-bats."
Walker to be inducted for high school merits
LOS ANGELES -- Pirates second baseman Neil Walker was honored to be chosen as part of the 2012 Hall of Fame class of the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League.Walker, a three-sport star at Pine-Richland High School, will be one of four athletes inducted along with other Western Pennsylvania high school luminaries. "There are already so many great people in that Hall of Fame, this is very special," Walker said. In addition to baseball, Walker was a standout in basketball and football. Countless people around Pittsburgh still insist football was Walker's best sport. "It was fun. I enjoyed playing all three sports in high school. It was something I took pride in," Walker said. "When it came down to it, I knew baseball was my ticket. But I'll never forget the memories I made in basketball and football. They will live with me forever."
A.J. Burnett, who according to manager Clint Hurdle "ambushed by some young players" in his Class A start Wednesday night for Bradenton, will stay on schedule by making his next start on April 16 for Triple-A Indianapolis. Burnett was pulled after 1 2/3 innings and 41 pitches in Palm Beach, Fla., after Jim Benedict, the special assistant to GM Neal Huntington, thought his delivery had gotten a little out of whack."At that point, Benedict just thought it was time for him to move on from that outing," Hurdle said. The worst part of the outing, from a progression standpoint, was Burnett's inability to even get near his 80-pitch target. He'll shoot for 80-85 pitches with Indianapolis then be re-evaluated. Cheered by a fan club of 20 young players he tutors at a local batting facility, Southern California resident Jared Hughes came on to pitch a hitless eighth inning in Wednesday night's game, remaining near perfect in Dodger Stadium. Hughes made two appearances here last September, posting a hitless inning both times. An argument for looking beyond the stat: We're told that the Pirates entered Thursday night's game with the top team average of all NL clubs against Dodgers starter Chris Capuano at .299; however, the current Bucs added up to only .227 (15-for-66). The Last Word: "I'm easy to please -- and hard to satisfy." -- Clint Hurdle, on whether he'd be pleased if the Pirates had a winning record without reaching his ultimate goal of a division title.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.