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Perrotto: One Big Swing Brings Justification for Edward Olivares

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Edward Olivares, Pittsburgh Pirates

PITTSBURGH — The question of why Edward Olivares was still on the Pittsburgh Pirates’ roster was certainly legitimate.

At least until Monday night.

Before Monday, the outfielder hadn’t had an extra-base hit since April 9 when he hit two home runs against the Detroit Tigers at PNC Park. Olivares was hitting a paltry .095/.192/.095 in his previous 13 games, a skid that dropped his batting average from .344 to .203.

However, Olivares showed his value as his first career grand slam lifted Mitch Keller and the Pirates to a 4-1 victory over the visiting Los Angeles Angels. Olivares’ big swing in the third inning was enough for the Pirates as Keller pitched a five-hitter for his second career complete game.

The Pirates won their third straight game following a five-game losing streak. The team’s offensive woes started well before that skid. The Pirates had scored two runs or less in 14 of their previous 17 games before beating the Colorado Rockies 5-3 on Sunday at PNC Park.

“It’s a huge boost,” Keller said of Olivares’ slam. “We’ve been struggling obviously. Just to break it open there, I think we had base runners on a lot of the innings, and for Olivares to just crank one out there, it lifted everyone in the dugout. It was a huge energy boost that we needed.”

It was a pretty big shot of adrenaline for Olivares, too.

“Full of excitement,” Olivares said about hitting his first career slam. “As soon as I hit the ball, I knew it had a good chance to go out of the field. And then the most important thing is just trying to help the team win the game.

“Dream come true for sure. I’m pretty happy and it’s just a great moment.”

The great moments have been scarce for Olivares since that two-homer game nearly a month ago.

The Pirates acquired Olivares from the Kansas City Royals in an offseason trade. The idea was to use the right-handed hitter as the short side of a right-field platoon with left-handed Jack Suwinski.

Connor Joe has often started in right field against left-handed starting pitchers, though. However, manager Derek Shelton went with Olivares against Tyler Anderson on Monday night and the move paid off.

Olivares also doubled in his first at-bat and finished with his fourth multi-hit game of the season. The other three came in succession between April 7 and 11.

“This kid can hit,” Shelton said, “I think we knew that when we acquired him. He’s hit at every level he’s been at. There has been inconsistent playing time for him a little bit for all of the right-handers we are seeing.”

“It is hard for sure,” Olivares said of his sporadic playing time. “But as a professional player, all you do is just go about your routine and just keep yourself ready. When the time comes, you’re ready for it to help the team in any way possible.”

Olivares stayed ready and finally got results on Monday night.

“Every day work paid off today,” he said. “Just continue to work and today was that day to, I guess, cash in. The results are out there because of the hard work.”

Which is why Olivares remains on the roster.

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