DENVER -- Alex Presley was back in the clubhouse, back in uniform and back atop the Pirates' lineup with a clear-headed idea of how to approach his return from a two-week timeout with concussion-like symptoms."Try to make plays for the team, so I'm playing hard. If something happens to me, that's just the way it is. So I'm not out there to hold anything back," Presley said on Monday afternoon upon being recalled from his rehab assignment in Indianapolis and activated from the seven-day DL. Presley was inserted into the lineup for the opener of the three-game series against the Rockies, in left field and in the No. 1 hole. To make room for him, Matt Hague was optioned to Indianapolis; this is Hague's third trip to the Triple-A club. Presley had jarred himself attempting a diving catch of a sinking liner by Houston's Jed Lowrie in the first inning of the July 3 game in PNC Park. He removed himself from that game three innings later, complaining of symptoms from having suffered what later was described as a "whiplash affect." "When I got up, I just didn't feel right," Presley recalled the aftermath of that headlong dive. "I wasn't all there. I'm used to getting up and being fine, so that was just one of those weird things." Presley had a very brief rehab assignment of two games with the Indians, going 2-for-4 in each game. "I got back in the flow of playing, and felt good," he said. "Everything I did to get cleared gave me confidence that I was ready to go. I was out there without any concern. Just trying to get dialed back in at the plate." "We weren't looking for an extended stay," manager Clint Hurdle said. "He got the at-bats we thought he needed. Got some hits, got to run the bases -- and laid out for a ball [in left field] with no repercussions. So he's physically fit and ready to go."
Hurdle proud of accomplishments with Rox
DENVER -- An understandably hot topic that has followed the Pirates around for six weeks -- kudos for and analysis of their surprising contention -- naturally got amplified at Coors Field, in Clint Hurdle's former hot spot.However, while doling out the usual share of props for the guys playing for him, Hurdle declined to acknowledge any of the personal satisfaction to which he seemed entitled. Returning with a contender to the scene of one's dismissal three years ago should be worth a few points. Still, Hurdle said it's "not about personal satisfaction for me. If I can coach them up, as much off as on the field, that's fine." The highlight of Hurdle's 6 1/2 seasons as Colorado manager was the 2007 steamroll into the postseason and ultimately into the World Series. "The personal satisfaction I do get here," Hurdle said, "is looking at that flag in left field, and knowing I played a small part in hanging a National League championship flag in a place where, for so many years, I was told it could not be done." Kinda like what Pittsburgh has listened to for two decades? "We brought good times [to Denver] for so many people who'd been through trying times," Hurdle said. "That's what we're building [with the Pirates]. People who have been around for so long are starting to get loud and proud."
"We aren't scheduled as teams' homecoming opponent anymore."
-- Clint Hurdle's way of saying that the improved Pirates are no longer looked upon as an easy team by the rest of the National League.
This series is between the teams with the two shortest-winded starting rotations in the National League. The oddity is that the Rockies' 5.1 innings per start reflects the 75-pitch limit on all of their starters, while Pirates starters, with no such restrictions, were averaging only 5.7 innings per start prior to Monday night's game. Among (many) other things, Andrew McCutchen leads the National League with 13 home runs with men on base, out of his total of 21 prior to Monday's game. Shortstop Clint Barmes was pumped up for this series, hoping to continue his success against the only two other teams for which he played prior to signing as a free agent with the Pirates. Barmes, an overall .206 hitter, entered Monday's game batting .322 (10-for-31), with one homer and four RBIs, in seven games against Houston and Colorado.
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.