By: Chris Gates

PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) — It’s been a while since I’ve been able to write a straight up blog with the Stanley Cup Playoffs going on and actual game recaps to write virtually every night.

But now the Pens are out of the postseason (unfortunately) and we had a day off to digest what’s gone on with the Pirates through the first month of the season.

At the forefront of the minds of many media members and fans to start the season was third baseman Pedro Alvarez and if he could rebound from a terrible 2011.

Well, a month in to the season it doesn’t appear we have a concrete answer to that question. Quite frankly, most would probably lean towards saying Alvarez has had little improvement, if any at all.

But a recent stretch of baseball might suggest Alvarez’s play is on the upswing.

In Wednesday’s double-header, Alvarez belted two home runs — one in Game 1 and another in Game 2 — doubled and had a 390-foot fly ball out to the opposite field.

However, it’s more than just one day’s work. Alvarez is batting .300 with three homers and five RBIs in his last 20 at-bats.

His recent stretch may not inspire many to get back on the Pedro bandwagon, considering his batting average is still just a lick over .150. But it’s important to keep track of.

As Pat Lackey of points out, this is the best start to a season Alvarez has ever had. In his first 14 games last year and then in the first 14 games after his callup in 2011, he combined to hit no homers and strike out 40 times. He hit just four homers in 2011 in 74 games.

He has four home runs so far this season and has struck out just six times in his last 21 at-bats.

I know, I know. Part of this comes off as making excuses for Alvarez. That’s an understandable argument. And given that we’re just days removed from one writer calling Alvarez potentially one of the biggest wastes of hitting talent in draft history, well, nobody can be blamed for continuing to want more from Alvarez.

But he’s had a positive stretch that he can hopefully build upon here.

It’s pretty obvious that a major hurdle for Alvarez is his confidence. It can only help him to put together a string of positive at-bats and positive games.

The Pirates are still struggling to score, but recently they have been able to get men on base. If Alvarez can continue to improve and move up in the lineup, there might actually be someone in the middle of the order to drive home the likes of Andrew McCutchen and Alex Presley.

Time will tell, but it can’t hurt to look at Alvarez in a positive light right now.

Chris Gates | Bucs Blog

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