Pirates set rotation and bench with nine cuts
Locke in, McPherson out as fifth starter; Tabata over Presley as extra outfielder
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Alex Presley, last season's Opening Day left fielder, and rotation hopeful Kyle McPherson were among nine players cut Wednesday morning as the Pirates got down to their 25-man roster.
Also optioned to Triple-A was infielder Jordy Mercer, with six others being reassigned to the team's Minor League camp: pitchers Mike Zagurski, Ryan Reid and Vin Mazzaro; catchers Lucas May and Carlos Paulino; and outfielder Felix Pie. All but Presley and McPherson had been non-roster invitees to the big league camp.
McPherson politely declined to discuss the club's move after exiting manager Clint Hurdle's office, but Presley expressed disappointment with the decisions following "the best spring I've ever had, working on all the things they wanted me to work on and that I knew I needed to improve at."
The moves confirmed Jeff Locke as the fifth starter in a rotation that thus will include three left-handers, with Wandy Rodriguez and Jonathan Sanchez. Right-handers A.J. Burnett and James McDonald complete the quintet.
Josh Harrison claimed the final seat on the bench, with the expectation that Brandon Inge will open the season on the disabled list with a sore right shoulder blade. Until the decision is made on Inge, the Bucs actually still have 26 active players in camp. Final rosters have to be submitted Sunday.
"This was going to be a great day, either way," said Locke, the Pirates' steadiest starter in exhibition play, with a 3.38 ERA in 21 1/3 innings. "I was going to find out where I'd open the season, and whether it was here or in Triple-A. Just knowing was going to help me get ready."
Presley, who wasn't able to reach base often enough last season to keep his job in left and in the leadoff spot, had an on-base percentage of .396 in 24 spring games, while batting .311.
With Wednesday's moves, which came with two games left on the Pirates' Grapefruit League schedule, here is how the 25-man roster will shake out:
• Pitchers (12): Burnett, Rodriguez, McDonald, Sanchez, Locke, Jason Grilli, Jared Hughes, Mark Melancon, Chris Leroux, Tony Watson, Justin Wilson, Jeanmar Gomez.
• Catchers (2): Russell Martin and Michael McKenry.
• Infielders (6): Gaby Sanchez, Neil Walker, Clint Barmes, Pedro Alvarez, John McDonald and Harrison (Inge likely on DL).
• Outfielders (5): Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen, Travis Snider, Garrett Jones, Jose Tabata.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.