Following another substandard appearance in Monday night’s 10-4 loss in Milwaukee, it appears that Jonathan Sanchez has thrown his last pitch for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
This afternoon, the Pirates announced via Twitter and other media channels that the 30-year-old left-hander has been designated for assignment, making room for right-handed pitcher Bryan Morris, who was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis.
Sanchez inflated his ERA to 11.85 with 2 1/3 innings of relief against the Brewers, allowing two runs and two homers after taking over for ineffective starter Wandy Rodriguez. Monday was Sanchez’ first time coming out of the Pirates bullpen, as he had four starts to begin his Pittsburgh career.
A Puerto Rico native, Sanchez was signed as a free agent in the offseason as insurance for injured starters Francisco Liriano and Charlie Morton, both of whom are on track to join the Pirates in May. Sanchez’ days in Pittsburgh may have already been numbered when he was suspended six games for plunking St. Louis’ Allen Craig on Friday night after allowing back-to-back home runs. Sanchez appealed the suspension, making him available until his hearing.
As part of collective bargaining rules, the Pirates have some time to decide what to do with Sanchez. Sanchez could be released, traded and/or placed on waivers over the next 10 days. He could also be placed back on the 40-man roster at the end of that period.
Morris, 26, has appeared in six Pirates games spanning this season and last, all in relief. A first-round pick of the Dodgers in 2006, Morris was acquired by Pittsburgh in the Jason Bay three-team deal of July 2008. He was the highest-regarded prospect the Pirates received in the trade, but his development has been slower than expected, perhaps due to an overly conservative approach by Bucs brass.
Morris has a 1.42 ERA in five relief appearances for Indianapolis this season. He has been used exclusively in the ninth inning at Triple-A, but he projects to slot into a middle relief role for the Pirates. With Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli already racking up the high-leverage innings and Jared Hughes struggling, Morris has an opportunity to establish himself as a viable major-league asset.
The Pirates continue their three-game series in Milwaukee at 8 p.m. Eastern time Tuesday.