Pirates go Hollywood at home

PITTSBURGH – Actor Jon Hamm and minor league pitcher Rinku Singh were at PNC Park Sunday to promote the new movie, “Million Dollar Arm.”

The film is based on the Pirates’ idea of exploring India with the idea of finding cricket players who might be able to play baseball.

Huntington said they launched the search hoping they would find a hitter. Instead, they came away with two possible pitchers, both of whom had been javelin throwers.

Singh, 25, is still in the Pirates’ organization, although he’s currently sidelined after his second elbow surgery. He is expected to return during spring training. He has pitched in 84 professional games, reaching the Class A level.

The other player signed, right-hander Dinesh Patel, was released in 2010.

Because of his inexperience and his recent injury history, Singh is a longshot to ever reach the major leagues, and probably shouldn’t be expected to even reach Class AAA.

Then again…

“He’s a left-handed reliever,” Huntington said with a smile, acknowledging the reality that lefthanded specialists get plenty of chances in baseball.

“He has enough stuff,” Huntington said. “He has the makings of a fastball and a breaking ball. He’s big, he’s long [6-foot-3], he’s athletic. He has that slot that you see lefthanded relievers attack with. We’re still excited about what he can do.

“Our staff thinks the world of him. He’s one of the hardest-working players we have in the system and he’s going to do everything to get the most out of his ability.”

Why India?

Wealthier teams have explored Japan and Korea and their interest had driven up prices for players. The Pirates decided to try India, hoping that the basic skills of cricket could translate to baseball.

Huntington said the Pirates have not followed through aggressively in India, but he still thinks that country represents a potential source of talent.

“The Pirates may never reap the benefits from this,” Huntington said. “It may be four GMs from now that we do. There’s a billion people in India, and they love cricket. Is there anything here? I don’t know. But sometimes nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

New guy in town

With two starting outfielders functioning at less than 100 percent, the Pittsburgh Pirates made another roster move on Sunday.

They brought up outfielder Jaff (pronounced Jeff) Dacker from Class AAA Indianapolis, and returned infielder Brent Morel to the minor leagues.

Andrew McCutchen has been bothered by a sore ankle that kept him out of Saturday’s game, and Starling Marte left Saturday’s game with stiffness in his lower back.

McCutchen started Sunday’s homestand finale against St. Louis.

“Two guys have a hitch in their get-along playing the outfield right now,” manager Clint Hurdle said.

The Pirates were also playing a man short on Saturday as Travis Snider sat out the second and last game of his MLB suspension. The personnel shortage led Hurdle to use first baseman Gaby Sanchez and shortstop Jordy Mercer in the outfield for the first time in their major league careers.

The Pirates’ outfield at the end of the game had utility player Josh Harrison in left, Jose Tabata in center and Mercer in right.

While McCutchen was able to play Sunday, Marte was replaced by Tabata.

“It’s just some spasms and tightness that needs to work itself out,” manager Neal Huntington said. “He needs a little bit of down time.”

Decker, who was acquired from San Diego in the offseason, was batting .238 with one home run and 11 runs batted in over 30 games at Indianapolis. He made his major league debut with the Padres last season.