Today the Pittsburgh Pirates took another step toward finalizing their Opening Day roster. Pitchers Jim Fuller, Jorge Rondon, and AJ Schugel, as well as catchers Jacob Stallings and Ed Easley were reassigned to Minor League camp.
The Pirates also announced that pitcher Jared Hughes, third baseman Jung-Ho Kang, and catcher Elias Diaz will start the year on the disabled list. While none of this news is surprising, it does seem to confirm that both Kyle Lobstein and Cory Luebke will make the Pirate bullpen out of Spring Training.
This Tweet from Pirates.com beat writer Adam Berry seems to indicate that the bullpen is not set in stone, though. The way Berry words it makes it sound like the Pirates will attempt to add a reliever via trade between now and Sunday. If they are able to, Lobstein would open the year in the AAA bullpen. If not, he opens the year in the Pittsburgh bullpen.
After announcing yesterday that Juan Nicasion, not Ryan Vogelsong, had won the final spot in the rotation the only roster move left for the Pirates in the final bench spot. That competition is between middle infielder Pedro Florimon, utility man Cole Figueroa, and 1B/3B Jason Rogers.
I expect Pedro Flormion to get the final bench spot for two reasons. One, the Pirates need a backup shrotstop which would seemingly make this a two-man race between Florimon and Figueroa. And two, Florimon is on the 40-man roster already, which Figueroa is not, and out of options.
It is still possible Michael Morse, who has been battling a hamstring issue, but not likely. However, if Morse were to begin the season on the disabled list then I would expect both Florimon and Rogers to make the team out of Spring Training.
The Elias Diaz injury is one to monitor as well. He is the Pirates’ primary catching depth should Francisco Cervelli or Chris Stewart get injured. Now, the AAA catching duties will be split between Easley and Stallings. Hopefully, Cervelli and Stewart can stay healthy.
In order to make room on the 40-man roster for non-roster invites Cory Luebke and Matt Joyce who have made the team, they will need to clear two spots on the 40-man roster. Infielder Gift Ngoepe, 1B/OF Jake Goebbert, RHP John Holdzkom, and RHP Rob Scahill are all possibilities to be designated for assignment.