After the Pittsburgh Pirates demoted Chris McGuiness to minor-league camp last week, it appeared that 25-year-old prospect Andrew Lambo had the inside track to man the other half of a first-base platoon with Gaby Sanchez.
Obviously, the Pirates weren’t thinking that way, as they cut Lambo and 10 other players from their major-league camp Tuesday morning. As reported by Tim Williams of Pirates Prospects and others, outfielder Jaff Decker and pitcher Jared Hughes were the other 40-man roster players reassigned to Triple-A Indianapolis.
Lambo put himself on the prospect map last summer when he hit 32 homers and posted a .922 OPS while earning a promotion from Double-A Altoona to Indy. However, he has looked largely lost at the plate this spring, collecting four hits in 42 at-bats.
Meanwhile, free agent first baseman Travis Ishikawa has hit .333/.467/.708 in Grapefruit League action, albeit in just 24 at-bats. The 30-year-old Ishikawa has played 382 MLB games with the Giants and Brewers, so maybe the experience factor pushed the Pirates toward keeping him on the roster to start the season.
Hughes, 28, has 107 MLB appearances to his credit, but he couldn’t keep pace with fellow righty reliever Stolmy Pimentel and doesn’t offer the versatility of Jeanmar Gomez and Vin Mazzaro. Furthermore, Hughes doesn’t have to clear waivers to be demoted, while Gomez and Mazzaro have been mentioned in trade rumors.
The 24-year-old Decker has hit .250/.308/.361 this spring while battling for the Pirates’ fifth outfield spot. He was acquired from San Diego in a minor-league trade this offseason.
Counting catcher Chris Stewart, who will start the year on the disabled list, the Pirates have 31 players left in major-league camp. They will have to cut five more prior to Monday’s season-opener against Chicago at PNC Park.
Also, since Ishikawa isn’t on the 40-man roster, the Pirates will have to make room for him if they intend to bring him north to Pittsburgh.