Pirates name Locke fifth starter; Opening Day roster all but set

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BRADENTON, Fla. -- The Pirates named Jeff Locke their fifth starter this morning and made nine other moves to cut their major league roster to 26 players.

Assuming Brandon Inge starts the season on the disabled list, the team's opening day roster is all but set.

General manager Neal Huntington said Locke's consistency this spring set him apart from Kyle McPherson, who was optioned to Class AAA Indianapolis, and Jeanmar Gomez, who will join the bullpen.

Locke has a 3.39 ERA this spring and did not allow more than three earned runs in an outing -- something McPherson and Gomez can't claim.

He joins A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez, James McDonald and Jonathan Sanchez to complete the team's rotation.

His spot there could be tenuous as three pitchers -- Jeff Karstens (right shoulder tendinitis), Francisco Liriano (broken non-throwing arm) and Charlie Morton (Tommy John surgery) -- are rehabilitating from injuries. And top prospect Gerrit Cole could join the club as early as June.

In addition to McPherson, the Pirates optioned Alex Presley and Jordy Mercer to Indianapolis. The Pirates reassigned Felix Pie, Mike Zagurski, Vin Mazzaro, Ryan Reid, Carlos Paulino and Lucas May to minor league camp.

The Pirates bullpen will include: Jason Grilli (closer), Mark Melancon, Jared Hughes, Tony Watson, Justin Wilson, Chris Leroux and Gomez.

The bench will include: John McDonald, Michael McKenry, Jose Tabata and Josh Harrison, assuming Inge goes on the disabled list to start the season.

The starters include: Andrew McCutchen (center field), Starling Marte (left field), Travis Snider (right field), Neil Walker (second base), Pedro Alvarez (third base), Garrett Jones and Gaby Sanchez (first-base platoon), Clint Barmes (shortstop) and Russell Martin (catcher).

The Pirates leave Florida on Thursday following an afternoon Grapefruit League game against the New York Yankees.

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Michael Sanserino: msanserino@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1722 and on Twitter: @msanserino.


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