03/28/11 5:15 PM ET
Final roster moves will affect Pirates' bullpen
By Jenifer Langosch / MLB.com
Technically, 31 players remain in Major League camp, though five are essentially out of the mix for an Opening Day roster spot. Chris Snyder (back soreness), Jose Ascanio and Scott Olsen are expected to be officially placed on the disabled list before rosters have to be set at 11 p.m. ET on Thursday. Righty Brad Lincoln (right forearm bruise) will start either in Triple-A Indianapolis or extended Spring Training. And Joe Beimel (left elbow tightness) will not be added to the 40-man roster until he pitches enough innings in extended Spring Training.
That means the club has 26 players left to fill 25 spots.
The final roster moves will affect the bullpen. Once the Pirates add Jose Veras, who came to camp under a Minor League contract, to the 40-man roster, the club will have five of their seven relievers set. Joining Veras will be Joel Hanrahan, Evan Meek, Chris Resop and Jeff Karstens.
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Three more relievers -- Garrett Olson, Chris Leroux and Mike Crotta -- will travel with the team to Philadelphia, though just two of them will be assured of having Opening Day roster spots.
The only way in which all three of those bullpen arms continue with the team to Chicago is if James McDonald has to begin the year on the disabled list. McDonald, who is working his way back after missing time with left-side soreness, should know if he is able to make his first regular season start after he throws again on Thursday.
If McDonald is unable to go, Karstens will likely slide into the rotation. That would open up the extra bullpen spot.
Assuming the Pirates don't make any last-minute waiver claim or trade, the club has solidified its five-man bench. Steve Pearce, Josh Rodriguez and John Bowker will claim the last three spots. With Snyder likely to start the year on the disabled list, both Ryan Doumit and Jason Jaramillo will start the year on the big league club.
Royals keep Adcock on Opening Day roster
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Nathan Adcock, who the Royals took from the Pirates in the Rule 5 Draft, has made Kansas City's Opening Day roster. Though Adcock has not pitched above Class A before, the right-hander impressed the Royals enough to warrant a chance to test his ability at the big league level. Kansas City's decision to keep Adcock was announced by general manager Dayton Moore on Monday.
Adcock posted a 3.46 ERA in eight Cactus League games. He gave up five runs on 13 hits in 13 innings.
Now, this does not mean that Adcock is necessarily gone for good. If he is not able to stick on the Major League roster all year, Adcock would have to be offered back to the Pirates for $25,000. The Royals paid $50,000 to acquire him in December.
"We think there's something in him," Moore told reporters in Arizona. "He's very poised, he's very confident, he has things together for a young guy. We're very pleased with the way he's handled himself. He makes the ball move naturally; that's a great sign of future success as a pitcher. He keeps the ball. Maybe he's a starter of the future. We'll see."
Bucs take a dozen Minor Leaguers to Philly
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- A dozen Minor League players will accompany the Pirates' big leaguers on the club's upcoming trip to Philadelphia, where the Pirates will close out spring with a pair of exhibition games.
As they did last year, the Pirates will carry these extra players in order to have an ample number of backups so that the regulars can be properly rested before Friday's season opener. A number of the team's projected starters will not play much, if at all, in Wednesday's afternoon contest.
The Minor Leaguers traveling north include infielders Brian Friday, Josh Harrison, Jordy Mercer and Benji Gonzalez; outfielders Brad Chalk and Starling Marte; catchers Eric Fryer and Kris Watts; and pitchers Anthony Claggett, Mike Colla, Michael Dubee and Jared Hughes.
"It's a very real taste of what the Major League level looks like," general manager Neal Huntington said. "Don't tell them there's no pressure, because it might be the first time they've gone out in front of 40,000 fans. It's a great opportunity for them."
Because there is a larger gap between the start of the Major League and Minor League seasons this year, these Minor League players will fly back to Florida after the exhibition games for a few days, instead of reporting directly to an affiliate.
Hurdle hopes extra cuts help hurlers at plate
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Manager Clint Hurdle spit out the fact with plenty of disgust in his voice.
"We hit .090 as a pitching staff last year," he said. "That's terrible. It's unacceptable."
Insisting that the production from the No. 9 spot in the order needs to improve over last year, Hurdle has made hitting a strong focus of the pitchers' workload this spring. Pitchers have been in the batting cages taking extra cuts, and Hurdle began hitting his pitchers in games much earlier in Grapefruit League play than most other National League clubs.
Only the Dodgers' pitching staff finished with a lower batting average (.081) than Pittsburgh's last season. To provide an additional comparison, consider that Milwaukee's pitchers hit .210 during the year.
"How you're going to get better as a pitching staff is you're going to bat more," Hurdle said. "You practice it more. Through smart practice, you build up the reps."
In all, Pirates pitchers ended up taking 30 at-bats this spring. The group collected five hits.
Pittsburgh traded infielder Josh Fields to the Rockies on Monday for a player to be named later or cash. Fields, who had been reassigned to Minor League camp last Friday, was unsuccessful in his attempt to make the Pirates' Opening Day roster as a backup corner infielder. ... Right-hander James McDonald threw a bullpen session at McKechnie Field on Monday without any issue. McDonald, who recently returned after a left-side injury, is next scheduled to throw in a game on Thursday. How McDonald fares on Thursday will determine whether he is ready to make a start for the Pirates on April 5. ... With Monday's loss, the Pirates finished Grapefruit League play with an 11-20 record.
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.