This is my annual "Steve Pearce needs more playing time" column, and I will keep writing it every year until the Pirates finally get a clue about how to handle the guy.
If the Bucs give Pearce one legitimate opportunity to play first base every day on an extended basis, he will prove to be a good major league hitter. And every day means every day, not the perpetual cycle of five games on, two games off, two games pinch hitting and then another start.
Pencil in Pearce's name every day for six weeks. Let him have his ups and downs, battle through some 0-for-10s and get into a rhythm against both left-handers and right-handers.
It's clear the Pirates don't want to do this. Why is anyone's guess.
They'll keep throwing out Charlie Morton to get hammered every fifth day and keep using the ridiculous excuse that he's improving. They'll keep playing Jeff Clement over Pearce when it's clear Clement is overmatched (.182 average).
Pearce, who hit .349 in Triple-A this season, was 3-for-4 Wednesday and 1-for-3 with an RBI triple Thursday to raise his average to .280 (7-for-25). He showed up to PNC Park the past two days, though, and was not in the starting lineup.
Pearce starting vs. subbing
Pearce has held his own when starting and getting regular at-bats (2 or more) in games, but he has struggled when used in pinch-hitting and fill-in roles.
That's how you kill a player's confidence, and prevent him from improving. It's what the Pirates have done with Pearce throughout his big league career.
Pearce has never started more than 11 consecutive games for the Bucs (that was in 2008), and his longest stretch last year was eight in a row. In those eight games July 23-31, he hit safely in six while batting .267 (8-for-30) with four doubles and a homer.
That wasn't good enough for the Pirates as Pearce was used as a pinch hitter the ninth day and didn't play at all the following day.
He later hit .389 (7-for-18) during five straight starts Aug. 25-29, only to pinch hit the next day and be benched the next. He received extended playing time in August and batted a decent .254, then the Pirates gave up on him as he was benched for six of the first 11 games in September.
The Bucs need to simply play Pearce and stop playing with his mind.
With all he's shown in his minor league career, including with the Curve in 2007, it's baffling that the Pirates refuse to give him one extended opportunity.
Cory Giger can be reached at 949-7031 and firstname.lastname@example.org.