BRADENTON, Fla. -- The Pirates have 54 players remaining in Major League camp, after cutting four pitchers prior to Saturday's pair of games.
Bryan Morris was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis, which is where the right-hander is slated to begin this season. Righty Kyle McPherson was optioned to High-A Bradenton, while left-handers Rudy Owens and Justin Wilson have been reassigned to Minor League camp.
None of these four moves come as a surprise, as all four pitchers were in camp knowing that they were not competing for roster spots with the big league club.
"[With the] small snapshots that I was able to view, I was impressed with all of them," manager Clint Hurdle said. "It just reinforces everything I heard, everything I felt, everything I had seen about our player development system. These guys are grounded. These guys are focused. These guys are committed. They are professionals. They used their eyes so well, their ears so well here."
Like Morris, both Owens and Wilson are also expected to be in Indianapolis' starting rotation in April. The two spent all of 2010 with Double-A Altoona, where each made 26 starts. Wilson, the club's fifth-round pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, finished 11-8 with a 3.09 ERA. Owens, who was named the organization's Minor League Pitcher of the Year, posted a 2.46 ERA and won 12 games.
Morris is coming off a bounce back season in which he spent the majority of the year in Double-A. After allowing only three earned runs in 44 2/3 innings with Bradenton, Morris made 19 appearances (16 starts) with Altoona.
McPherson appeared in only two games above the low-A level last year but impressed the organization enough that the Pirates added him to the 40-man roster in November to protect him from being taken in the Rule 5 Draft.
McCutchen back in lineup Saturday
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Concern about Andrew McCutchen's ailing left wrist was alleviated on Saturday morning after the center fielder talked his way into the afternoon's lineup.
McCutchen exited Friday's game before the bottom of the third, with what the team later announced as left wrist soreness. Nothing else was known about the severity of the injury until Saturday, when McCutchen revealed that X-rays came back negative and that the wrist was no longer bothering him.
"I can hit, I can throw, I can do anything," McCutchen said. "It's fine. I just wanted to get it checked to make sure it's nothing serious. It ended up being nothing serious, just nerve irritation. I was definitely nervous, because I've never dealt with anything with my wrist before."
McCutchen said he's still not exactly sure what caused the soreness, but that he woke up Friday morning and felt a pain when he touched his wrist. He compared the sensation to the feeling someone gets when they hit their funny bone.
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Though the center fielder was not initially slated to play on Saturday, he convinced the staff that he was good to go before the team bus left for Dunedin, Fla. McCutchen started in center and finished the day 2-for-3 with a double, two-run homer and two runs scored.
"The hand was a non-issue," manager Clint Hurdle said. "He's good to go."
McDonald cautious but optimistic about return
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Even though James McDonald refrained from doing on-field work on Saturday, the right-hander expressed optimism that he won't be out of action for long.
On Friday, McDonald was pulled from his start in the third after telling trainer Brad Henderson that he was feeling discomfort in his left side. The Pirates said on Saturday that McDonald will be re-evaluated over the next few days, after which the club will release more information about his status.
Though the team intends to be extra cautious with McDonald's progression back to the mound, the righty said on Saturday that he felt good enough to get back to work right away.
"I feel like I can," said McDonald, who the Pirates are counting on to be a main cog in the team's rotation. "When I was pitching, it kind of grabbed a little bit. They said, 'It's spring, not the season, so let's just take it slow.'"
McDonald was unsure of whether the setback would force him to miss any spring starts, and the Pirates did not speculate on that prospect either. In McDonald's three starts so far, he has given up 10 hits and three earned runs in 6 2/3 innings.
Just days after finding out Ryan Doumit would be sidelined for at least a week with an oblique strain, the Pirates had to scratch Chris Snyder from starting the team's game Saturday in Dunedin, Fla., due to tightness in his back. Snyder, who hasn't played since Wednesday, is listed as day-to-day. He received treatment at McKechnie Field during the Pirates' game against Philadelphia. ... With two more scoreless innings on Saturday, Jose Veras has not allowed a run in four of his five spring appearances. The non-roster reliever is one of the favorites to earn a spot in Pittsburgh's bullpen. ... Hawaiian native Tyler Yates said his family on the island of Kauai experienced no issues from the tsunami waves that were hitting the coast of the Hawaiian Islands. ... Up from Minor League camp for the day, Matt Hague drove in two with an eighth-inning single. Hague was the team's ninth-round Draft pick in 2008.
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.