With under two weeks until Opening Day, the Pittsburgh Pirates continue to trim their spring training roster down to get to the 25 players that will travel north with the tam when the Bucs open the season at PNC Park April 1 against the Chicago Cubs.
The Bucs made three more moves on Friday in order to get closer to that number by assigning infielders Ivan De Jesus Jr. and Jared Goedert to minor league camp and optioning reliever Bryan Morris to Triple-A Indianapolis.
The biggest surprise really isn’t that shocking and that is the fact that De Jesus Jr. was optioned out.
A week ago it looked as if the 25-year old had a realistic chance to make the team, but once the Bucs acquired John McDonald, it all but stuck a fork in any chance De Jesus Jr. had.
But he did open up some eyes by winning the batting title in the Puerto Rico Winter League and had a very nice spring, hitting .406 in 21 Grapefruit League games.
It’s likely the move is just to get De Jesus Jr. regular at bats in Triple-A. With Clint Barmes on the final year of a two-year contract, it’s likely that De Jesus Jr., who was acquired from the Boston Red Sox in the Joel Hanrahan trade, could open up 2014 as the Pirates starting shortstop. But the time in Indianapolis can help De Jesus Jr. work on his glove, which is his biggest drawback right now,
“He did a lot of good things to open some eyes,” Pirates’ general manager Neal Huntington told MLB.com’s Tom Singer. “As we told him, we got one of the better defensive infielders in the game to be a backup for us, and that impacted him.”
As for Morris, coming into camp it looked as if he would have a realistic chance to win a bullpen job, but the right-hander did not perform well, as he dealt with inconsistency, posting a 5.14 ERA in seven appearances.
But the likely reason that Morris was sent down is that he was recently granted a fourth option and as we all know, options come into play when determining who stays and who goes.
The roster moves leave the Pirates with 37 players in camp, but that number includes: Chase d’Arnaud, who was placed on the 60-day disabled list following surgery Monday on his left thumb, and rehabbing pitchers Charlie Morton, Jose Contreras and Francisco Liriano.