Stop me if you have heard this before, but the projected bench for the Pittsburgh Pirates is another one that has been impacted by injury. Polanco testing positive for COVID-19 bumps Heredia, who was signed to be the team’s fourth outfielder, to a starting role. Additionally, projected back up catcher Luke Maile underwent hand surgery on Saturday and will miss 10-12 weeks, which in a 60-game season is essentially the entire season.
Maile’s injury opens up a roster spot for veteran John Ryan Murphy who will now back up Stallings. With the Polanco injury, Socrates Brito will likely become the team’s fourth outfielder to start the 2020 season.
Erik Gonzalez and Cole Tucker remain safe bets to make the team as utility players. Especially with Tucker starting to take reps in the outfield in addition to the middle infield. This gives the team a bench of Murphy, Brito, Gonzalez, and Tucker. So, what about the final spot?
Well, that final spot may hinge on health. JT Riddle has not worked out with his teammates since Thursday. If he is healthy, the INF/OF will be the final bench player for the Pittsburgh Pirates. If he is not, that creates an opportunity for another player.
The player best positioned to take advantage of this opportunity could be Phillip Evans. The right-handed hitting Evans has garnered praise from Shelton going back to spring training, and he can play the corner infield and outfield spots.