Clement Raking at AAA, Return to Pittsburgh on the Horizon?

First baseman Jeff Clement is on fire at Triple-A Indianapolis, hitting .472 with 5 home runs and 13 RBI in his last 10 games. For the season, Clement is batting .321 (52 for 162) in 47 games. We could see Clement in a Pirates uniform next Tuesday, when the Bucs are in Baltimore for Interleague Play. Bringing up Clement to be the designated hitter certainly makes sense.

Clement was traded to the Bucs in 2009 as part of the Pirates-Mariners deal that included Jack Wilson being shipped to Seattle. He was given an opportunity in 2010, but hit just .201 in 54 games. The former third overall pick was labeled as a bust and it never worked out for him. However, he’s back in the Pirates system and Indianapolis manager Dean Treanor said, “”He looks as good as I’ve seen him.”

If the Pirates choose to Clement back to the majors, it would force them to send someone back to the minor leagues. Although there is still ample time to make a decision, it seems that Jordy Mercer could go back to Indy to get regular playing time. When he called up on May 29th, manager Clint Hurdle said, “Mercer was not brought up to replace [Clint] Barmes. Nothing has changed; Barmes is our shortstop.” This has proven to be true, as Jordy as appeared in just 3 games (May 29 – 0 for 1, pinch-hit; May 30 – 1 for 4, start SS; June 1 – 0 for 4, start SS). After a few days rest, Barmes came back looking like a new man. He went 2 for 4 with 2 RBI on Sunday, and was 3 for 4 with 3 RBI on Tuesday; it seems like Barmes will receive more regular time.

Although he’d probably be up solely as the designated hitter, it could make sense to give him some reps at first base. Jose Tabata is still nursing a sore leg, so Garrett Jones is getting playing time in right field. That leaves Matt Hague at first, so the Bucs could choose to start a platoon between Clement and Hague. If Tabata reaggravates his injury and a DL trip is necessary, the Pirates should definitely consider it. Clement is on a hot streak right now and it makes sense to give him some at-bats vs. major league pitching.

Whether or not he is recalled is still up in the air, but Clement deserves a shot. He gives them a solid power option and left-handed bat. If he is recalled, hopefully Clement can provide some offense from the middle of the lineup. The Interleague games in Baltimore and Cleveland are important for both the Bucs and their opponents, and Clement could make the difference with just one swing of the bat.


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