ST. LOUIS -- There was a new old face on the Pirates' bench on Wednesday night. Matt Hague was back in a Bucs uniform for the first time in two years, recalled from Indianapolis as a temporary replacement for Starling Marte.
Marte went on bereavement leave and returned to the Dominican Republic following the death of his mother-in-law. Players on the bereavement list must miss a minimum of three games and can miss a maximum of seven, so a return prior to the All-Star break is uncertain.
Jose Tabata might have been higher in the Indianapolis pecking order than Hague, who last appeared for the Pirates on July 14, 2012, but Tabata hasn't played since July 3 after twice being hit by pitches on his left forearm.
So Hague is back in The Show. The Hit Collector leads the International League in RBIs, with 59, which helped land him on the Triple-A All-Star team.
Hague, the Bucs' primary first baseman during the first week of the 2012 season, has been a dedicated Minor League survivor. He has logged 775 Minor League games, most of them (454) at the Triple-A level.
"He's shown up and played and hit," manager Clint Hurdle said of the 28-year-old Hague, "and driven in runs. He's put up quality at-bats for two years [since the Bucs last optioned him], and went down there with a professional game ethic. He's been dependable."
Because Hague was not on the 40-man roster, his contract had to be selected from Indianapolis. To make room for him on the roster, pitcher Duke Welker was designated for assignment.
It's official: Liriano to return in Cincinnati
ST. LOUIS -- Francisco Liriano will make his comeback start on Sunday in Cincinnati, bumping right-hander Vance Worley into the bullpen for the final series prior to the All-Star break.
Liriano went on the disabled list on June 11 with a strained left oblique and on Monday completed his rehab with six shutout innings for Triple-A Indianapolis.
Worley will help out in relief for the short-term; the Pirates' staff will soon determine the club's post-break rotation and Worley's role in it.
"We'll have Worley throw his regular bullpen [on Thursday], then see if he'll be available out of the bullpen Saturday and Sunday," manager Clint Hurdle said. "We still have to talk through how we'll break out in the second half. That's always a challenge with the four days down -- Who can provide us with the biggest impact as we kick off the second half?"
For the three-game set against the Reds, the Pirates will have left-handers Jeff Locke and Liriano bookending right-hander Charlie Morton.
First number, last word
4: Cardinals walk-off wins over the Pirates since Aug. 13, 2013, out of a total of 11 regular-season games between the teams at Busch Stadium.
"The one challenge we have had is the throwing errors from third base. Take those away, and I don't think [we're weaker defensively] at all." -- Hurdle, pointing out that Pedro Alvarez's 17 throwing errors out of 18 overall miscues skewer the Bucs' defensive statistics
• Pitcher Gage Hinsz, the Pirates' 11th-round pick, came to terms on Wednesday, bringing to 32 the number of selectees from this year's First-Year Player Draft under contract. Hinsz, a 6-foot-4, 210-pound right-hander out of Billings West High School, was rated by Baseball America as Montana's top prospect.
• Chris Stewart was behind the plate for Brandon Cumpton on Wednesday, just part of Hurdle's "[Russell] Martin maintenance" as he endeavors to keep his No. 1 catcher sharp.
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.