PITTSBURGH -- For the second straight year, the Pirates' attempts to keep a Rule 5 player on the big league roster for an entire season were unsuccessful.
Needing to open a roster spot for Brandon Wood, the Pirates designated Josh Rodriguez for assignment on Friday. If Rodriguez is not traded or claimed off waivers, Pittsburgh must offer him back to Cleveland for half of the $50,000 purchase price the Pirates paid the Indians to pluck Rodriguez in the Rule 5 Draft.
If the Indians choose not to take Rodriguez back -- which seems an unlikely scenario -- the infielder could remain in the Pirates' system. Pittsburgh can also attempt to work out a trade to retain Rodriguez.
"He's a young man that we would like to keep in our organization," manager Clint Hurdle said. "We knew going in that it would be a challenge and a big jump, but we wanted to take the opportunity to try and get the best feel we could for him. I think one of the best things that will come out of this experience for him is that now he's gotten to see the Major League level."
Rodriguez made the club's Opening Day roster after not having played above Triple-A. He appeared in seven games (three as a starter) and struck out eight times in 12 at-bats. Rodriguez's only hit was an infield one that came in his second at-bat Thursday. He also drove in his first big league run in that game when he was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
With Rodriguez off the roster, the Bucs recalled infielder Pedro Ciriaco before Friday's game, which was postponed. Ciriaco is a placeholder until Wood arrives from California.
Ascanio struck in head by liner, suffers bruise
PITTSBURGH -- Jose Ascanio has suffered a setback in his rehab stint with Triple-A Indianapolis, though this latest injury is not related to his pitching arm.
Ascanio, who has been sidelined since undergoing right shoulder surgery in October 2009, was struck on the right side of his head by a line drive in Indianapolis' game against Toledo on Thursday night. The right-hander was starting the second game of Indianapolis' doubleheader.
Ascanio walked off the field on his own after the incident and was taken to a local hospital for additional tests. Doctors diagnosed him with a facial contusion.
The Pirates released a statement saying that Ascanio's status is uncertain at the time. The team did not estimate how long Ascanio might be sidelined.
Right-hander Kevin Hart, who is on the 60-day disabled list as he continues to recover from last season's right shoulder surgery, traveled with the club from Florida to Pittsburgh. By staying with the Major League club, he will be able to get one-on-one work with pitching coach Ray Searage. Hart has had no setbacks in his progression back. ... Jameson Taillon, the Pirates' first-round pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, appears to be close to making his professional debut. Taillon has been pitching in extended Spring Training, though he is expected to join the low-A West Virginia rotation soon. General manager Neal Huntington said the club will make an announcement once Taillon's next move is finalized. ... Right-hander James McDonald, who was hit hard in Thursday's loss, was out on the field getting specialized work with Searage more than an hour after Friday's game had been postponed.
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.