Pirates call up power-hitting Lambo
Left-handed outfielder tied for Minor League lead with 31 home runs this year
PITTSBURGH -- As Andrew Lambo's home run total escalated the past few weeks, the Pirates repeatedly said they were waiting for a sign the outfield prospect was ready to make the move to the Majors.
They got the sign on Monday, so Lambo is about to make the leap.
Lambo, whose 31 homers in 117 games are tied for the most in all of Minor League baseball, had his contract selected and will be in St. Louis for Tuesday's start of a three-game series against the Cardinals. He will be making his Major League debut, after 669 games and 2,451 at-bats in the Minors.
Outfielder Alex Presley, hitting .264 in 29 games, was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis to make room for Lambo on both the 40-man and 25-man rosters.
The arrival of the 25-year-old Lambo will answer the hopes of fans, who have been beating the drums for him for weeks.
Will it also answer Pittsburgh's need for more offense? Time will tell, but it's worth noting that Lambo cannot supply the most needed element of right-handed power. As another left-handed hitter, he joins the southpaw brigade of Pedro Alvarez and Garrett Jones.
Lambo has split the 2013 season evenly between Double-A Altoona and Indianapolis, combining for 97 RBIs and a .284 average in addition to the 31 homers in 117 games.
The production marks a rush back into the Bucs' plans by Lambo, who went on the team's 40-man roster upon his 2010 acquisition from the Dodgers in the deal that also landed James McDonald, then played himself out of that status.
In 2011 and '12, Lambo hit a combined 16 homers in 164 games.
A fourth-round selection of Los Angeles in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, the 6-foot-3, 210-pound Lambo has limited experience at first base but has spent most of his playing time as a corner outfielder.
Catching depth bolstered as Bucs sign Shoppach
PITTSBURGH -- Pirates general manager Neal Huntington has been actively seeking a veteran backup catcher since Michael McKenry was lost for the season with a knee injury, and he found his man Monday: The Bucs signed Kelly Shoppach, the 33-year-old backstop who has been through four organizations in the last two years but still has power at the plate and an arm behind it.
Shoppach was assigned to Triple-A Indianapolis, but the plan clearly is to add him to the Major League roster no later than when it expands on Sept. 1.
Shoppach has not played since his July 31 release by the Nationals, after 10 games with their Triple-A affiliate. Once he gets back into playing shape, he may get the call even before Sept. 1. Other than injury exceptions, players must be on the active roster on Aug. 31 for postseason eligibility, and the Pirates may prefer Shoppach to rookie Tony Sanchez behind Russell Martin if they enter the playoffs.
Shoppach hit .196 in 35 games with Seattle prior to his release by the Mariners on June 20. Signed by the Nationals, he hit .219 for their Syracuse farm team; that line included going 5-for-12 against left-handed pitching.
In 2012, Shoppach saw action with both the Red Sox and the Mets. Originally a second-round Boston pick in the 2001 First-Year Player Draft, Shoppach has a lifetime caught-stealing percentage of 30, and he has gone 11-for-29 (.379) with two home runs as a pinch-hitter.
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.