BRADENTON, Fla. — The Pirates reassigned eight players to minor league camp today, slimming their major league camp to 43 players.
Right-hander Phil Irwin and infielders Chris McGuiness and Brent Morel were optioned to Class AAA Indianapolis. Right-handers Jake Brigham, Cody Eppley and Josh Kinney, lefty Yao-Hsun Yang and infielder Chase d’Arnaud were reassigned to minor league camp.
Irwin, McGuiness and Morel are on the 40-man roster; four of the others were non-roster invitees and d’Arnaud was designated for assignment this spring. The moves did not affect any of the main position battles for the final few spots on the 25-man roster.
Irwin battled some tightness in his right elbow but had returned to game competition.
“We’re trying to get him consistent innings and consistent work to be on the right track to be able to help us at some point this summer,” general manager Neal Huntington said.
Huntington also said that catcher Tony Sanchez will start the season on the active roster as the backup to Russell Martin, ruling out the possibility that the Pirates could trade for a reserve catcher.
“It never really was a choice unless Chris was going to be out for the majority of the season,” he said. “If it was a short-term loss, then Tony was going to be the guy, absolutely.”
Stewart returned to Pirates camp today after arthroscopic surgery Wednesday to shave down the meniscus in his right knee. He was on crutches but working out and said he hoped to be back on the shorter end of the four- to six-week timetable.
Bill Brink: email@example.com and on Twitter @BrinkPG.