Repeat Raker

Pearce raking in Triple-A, again

PITTSBURGH—For Steve Pearce, it must have felt like a flashback to 2007, when he was one of the top overall performers in the minor leagues.

He has dominated Triple-A pitching with Indianapolis this season, batting .349/.452/.605 with two home runs in 86 at-bats to become clearly the system's top performer.

The trouble with that: Pearce turned 27 in April and has had abbreviated stints over three years in Pittsburgh, including a lackluster final month of regular duty in 2009. He earned another callup to Pittsburgh in early May and got off to a 1-for-9 start.

The clear separator between the minors and majors was his patience, but Pearce is adamant he has addressed that with an approach developed in the final two weeks of spring training with Pirates hitting coach Don Long, one in which he keeps his hands lower to reduce the length of his swing.

"Steve's giving himself more time now to see the pitch," Long said. "Before, his hands were up, and his swing had to come all the way around, so he had to make up his mind about the pitch a lot earlier."

"I'm just trying to limit my aggression," Pearce said. "I've found my approach, and I'm sticking with it. I've gotten away from it in the past, but it's not happening now."

Pearce was confident that his time in Pittsburgh this season will not be like the frustrating stints of previous years.

Treasure Trove

• The Pirates' new high Class A Bradenton affiliate was leading all of minor league baseball in batting at .299/.389/.448 through April. The Marauders' top performer had been catcher Tony Sanchez, Pittsburgh's first-round draft pick last year. He was hitting .312/.426/.527 in 93 at-bats.

• Righthander Victor Black, the supplemental first-round pick out of Dallas Baptist last year who projects to be a closer, missed the first six weeks this season because of a strained muscle in his chest sustained in spring training. He was due back in mid-May.