Pirates designate Martinez for assignment
Four more players get non-roster Spring Training invitations
PITTSBURGH -- Forced to make a roster move to officially add Kevin Correia to the 40-man roster, the Pirates have designated right-hander Joe Martinez for assignment.
The club has 10 days to trade, release or outright Martinez to the Minors, if he clears waivers. It's believed that there is enough interest in Martinez that the Pirates will work out a trade. If not, Martinez will remain with the organization and will report to Spring Training to compete for a spot in the Pirates' bullpen.
Martinez made five appearances for Pittsburgh late last season after being traded from San Francisco on July 31. In those relief appearances, Martinez allowed three earned runs on 11 hits in 8 2/3 innings. He struck out six and walked three.
In addition to making a roster move, the Pirates have handed out four more non-roster Spring Training invitations. Those will go to left-handers Rudy Owens and Justin Wilson, first baseman Jeff Clement and reliever Tyler Yates. Yates has returned to the organization under a Minor League contract.
Though Yates hasn't pitched off a big league mound in over 19 months, he is expected to report to Bradenton, Fla., ready to compete for a spot in the Pirates' Opening Day bullpen.
Yates, 33, underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow in July 2009 and had hoped that he would recover quickly enough to pitch late in the '10 season. He did resume throwing early this summer, but was quickly shut down due to inflammation in his surgically repaired elbow. He missed the rest of the season.
According to general manager Neal Huntington, Yates is on track to be fully recovered by the start of camp. That means Yates will progress with the same throwing program as the rest of the pitchers as he makes his attempt at a comeback.
Clement has dropped down on the depth chart following the Pirates' offseason activity, but he'll still be in competition for a bench role. For Owens and Wilson, this marks the first time either will participate in big league Spring Training.
The two left-handed starters were standouts in Double-A Altoona's 2010 rotation. Though neither is likely to dent the Pirates' Opening Day roster, both Wilson and Owens have a chance at being in Pittsburgh before the end of the season if they continue to make strides in Triple-A.
Owens, who has been named the Pirates' Minor League Pitcher of the Year in each of the last two seasons, went 12-6 with a 2.46 ERA in 26 starts in 2010. The 23-year-old struck out 132 and walked only 23 in 150 innings pitched.
Wilson, a fifth-round Draft pick in 2008, finished 11-8 with a 3.09 ERA in 27 Double-A games. He struck out 134 and walked 71 in 142 2/3 innings.
The Pirates' list of non-roster invitees now sits at 12.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.