03/14/11 1:50 PM ET
Moskos designated to begin at Indianapolis
Former first-round pick among latest Pirates roster cuts
By Jenifer Langosch / MLB.com
Moskos was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis, along with lefty Tony Watson and outfielders Gorkys Hernandez and Alex Presley. Pitchers Aaron Thompson, Ramon Aguero and Jeff Locke were optioned to Double-A, while Andrew Lambo, Brian Friday and Chase d'Arnaud were reassigned to Minor League camp. The latter three are all slated to begin the season in Triple-A.
Moskos' departure officially takes him out of the running to be considered for a spot in the Pirates' Opening Day bullpen.
"Anytime you get sent down, it's not a good day, not a good thing," Moskos said. "As hard as I worked this offseason, I did expect to compete for a big league spot. That didn't work out. But that doesn't mean it's time to give up. I've got things to work on and I'll continue to do that down in the Minors, and hopefully I'll be back up shortly."
While Moskos was consistently mentioned among the club's left-handed relief options, he was always seen as a long shot to break camp with the Pirates, since he has not yet enjoyed sustained success above the Double-A level.
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That said, the Pirates made it clear on Monday that Moskos might not end up being away from the Major League club for long.
"It very well could play out this year for him," Bucs manager Clint Hurdle said when asked how close Moskos appears to being big league ready. "It would not surprise me at all, if there is a need and he pushes the envelope."
"That's definitely encouraging to hear him say those kind words about me," Moskos responded. "I did a lot of hard work this offseason to put myself in that position. It didn't work out the way I wanted, but for him to say that I'm close is very encouraging. That will help me deal with today."
Moskos heads to Indianapolis, where the left-hander endured a rocky and short stay midway through last season. The Pirates bumped Moskos up to Triple-A in June, after the reliever began the year with a 1.45 ERA and 17 saves in Double-A.
The stay in Indianapolis started off fine, before spiraling quickly. After 19 appearances and a sudden loss of command, Moskos was back in Altoona. Moskos' opportunity at redemption begins when Indianapolis opens its season on April 7.
"I think it will be a lot different," Moskos said. "I've also experienced some success and failure at the level that I've had the opportunity to learn from. I'm a year older and a year wiser. I've got my delivery a lot more fine-tuned. My stuff has been good. I'm just going to try to build off that."
Moskos made five appearances with the Pirates this spring and wasn't scored upon until the final one. After allowing only three hits through those first 4 1/3 innings, Moskos allowed four earned runs on three hits and a walk in an outing against the Rays on Friday.
General manager Neal Huntington said that Moskos likely will not be used primarily as a closer with Indianapolis, even though the lefty thrived as Altoona's closer in 2010. That's not an indictment on Moskos, but rather a way for the Pirates to keep Moskos available for multi-inning outings or lefty specialist opportunities.
"The key for him is going to be command," Huntington said. "He's going to have to attack the strike zone and be ahead in the count. When he is, he has a couple very good off-speed pitches that he can get Major League hitters out with. It's just a matter of refining the command of his motions, the command of his delivery, which will result in the command of his stuff."
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.