Rediscovery Needed For Alderson

Righthander looking to get back on track

PITTSBURGH—The Pirates have pushed Tim Alderson backward with an aim of moving him forward, but it could be a long climb.

Alderson, the 21-year-old righthander acquired last July from the Giants in the Freddy Sanchez trade, went from Double-A Altoona—where he was 7-5, 5.30 in 17 starts, with opponents batting .307—to high Class A Bradenton in mid-July, so that he could work on smoothing his delivery rather than worrying about outcomes.

In his first start for the Marauders, Alderson was rocked for seven runs in 12⁄3 innings, and after three starts his numbers stood at 0-2, 12.66 with five strikeouts and nine walks in 11 innings.

"We felt like we needed to get Alderson off the treadmill of surviving and trying to get Double-A hitters out, and shifted to taking the steps necessary to get on track to getting major league hitters out," farm director Kyle Stark said. "This is a big-picture move focused on his delivery, mentality and understanding of who he needs to be as a pitcher."

Stark said the immediate plan is to keep Alderson in Bradenton's rotation with a simple goal of straightening himself out.

Alderson, a gangly 6-foot-6, has had a complex delivery dating to his high school days, before the Giants made him the 22nd overall pick in 2007. The problem with that, as Alderson and the Pirates understood at the time, was that his body type had changed in the interim, and the rediscovery has not been easy.

Around the time of the trade, Alderson already seen a drop in fastball velocity, and it fell as low as 83 mph toward the end of last year. He has sat above 90 mph at times this year, but Alderson had been throwing harder than that previously.


• Righthander Bryan Morris, the Pirates' top pitching prospect, skipped a start at Altoona because of fatigue that had resulted in three consecutive rough starts—14 runs over 13 innings—and because management wants to limit his innings to the 130 range. He was at 103 by late July.

• Righthander Jeff Sues, the system's pitcher of the year in 2008, was placed on the minor league suspended list July 23 because he told the organization he would prefer a fresh start elsewhere. Sues, hindered by injury much of the past two years, had stepped back from Triple-A Indianapolis to Altoona this year.