Why was Alvarez recalled early, and how many options does he have left?

There has been some confusion as to why Pedro Alvarez was optioned to the minors yesterday by the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Some wondered why he was optioned, despite his official rehab assignment set to end on July 17th.  Some wondered how many options he currently has, and how many this would leave him.  To sort through the details, I put together a FAQ-style post, addressing each question.

1. Alvarez started his rehab work on June 27th.  A position player gets up to 20 days on rehab assignment?  Why was Alvarez activated so early?

Typically, a position player gets up to 20 days on rehab assignment in the minors.  Alvarez started working out at Pirate City around late-May, and began his official rehab assignment ...

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