BRADENTON, Fla. -- The Pirates cut their top two prospects, third baseman Pedro Alvarez and outfielder Jose Tabata, as well as infielder Doug Bernier, outfielder Jonathan Van Every and injured pitchers Tyler Yates, Neal Cotts, Craig Hansen and Jimmy Barthmaier.
That reduced the camp roster to 45.
Alvarez and Tabata were optioned to Class AAA Indianapolis, Bernier and Van Every reassigned.
General manager Neal Huntington explained that the Pirates would have preferred to keep Alvarez and Tabata in the major league camp through much more of spring training but that today is the deadline to option players who did not spend any of the previous year in the majors. If those players were to stay and get hurt in the remainder of this spring training, then the coming season would count as a full year of major league service time.
"This is where the roster bites us," Huntington said. "It's happened rarely that someone's gotten hurt, but it's happened. Heaven forbid someone like these two were to get hurt, it costs them and it costs us a year of major league service time as an organization. ... It forces us to make a move for defensive purposes."
How close are the two?
"Both showed some things to really be excited about this spring, but both also showed there's some development left. In Pedro's case, he's going to get everybody's lefty situational guy, so the left-on-left approach is going to be really important for his big-picture, future success. ... In Jose's case, it's just continued maturation. The focus from pitch to pitch, a challenge for a 21 year old. But we're excited about their development, and we'll see how quickly they're ready to go."
Alvarez, 23, batted .296 with two triples, two doubles and four RBIs in 27 at-bats.
"He just needs continued development, continued experience," Huntington said. "It's hard to remember that Pedro hasn't swung the bat against anybody above Class AA at this point. He's shown it at times, but he also shows why we're excited about his future."
On Alvarez at third base: "We're getting there. He still has work to do. It's a matter of letting the natural abilities he has ... the hands, the arm, he's got the natural attributes to do it on a consistent basis."
Alvarez, who had set a goal of making the team out of spring training, expressed an understanding of management's decision.
"I was hoping I could keep fooling them a little longer," he said with a laugh. "No, honestly, like I've said before, you come into spring trying to make the squad, and that was my goal. It just so happens this wasn't the time for that. I've got to go down there and get ready and keep getting better."
On his general feeling: "I feel very confident in my ability to play this game and to play at this level. Management has been around longer than I have, and they've seen a lot more people come and go. They're the best judges of when I'm ready. I thought I was ready to play professional ball coming out of high school and, after going to college, I realized that both mentally and physically, I wasn't ready."
Tabata, 21, batted .250 with two triples in 28 at-bats.
He was unavailable for comment.
The four injured pitchers already had been in minor league camp doing rehabilitation, so that was a paperwork move.