Pirates name Ohlendorf to rotation, Maholm for opener
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BRADENTON, Fla.--The Pirates named Ross Ohlendorf to the rotation, Paul Maholm to pitch in the opener and Jason Jaramillo to be their backup catcher as part of a busy morning.
Ohlendorf, part of the Xavier Nady/Damaso Marte trade last summer, has a 0.59 ERA in four appearances, with 10 strikeouts and no walks in 15 1/3 innings. He joins Maholm, Zach Duke and Ian Snell in the rotation, with Jeff Karstens and Virgil Vasquez still dueling for the fifth spot.
"We feel Ross has done the job, shown what he can do," general manager Neal Huntington said.
"I'm excited," Ohlendorf said. "I feel like, in the past week in particular, I've gotten a lot better."
The selection of Maholm for the opener, April 6 in St. Louis, will be a career first and might have been the most predictable move of the spring. In addition to being by far the Pirates' best pitcher in 2008, he has a 0.46 ERA in five appearances this spring.
"It's an honor to know they put that confidence in you," Maholm said.
The spring roster was reduced to 37 with the demotion of catcher Robinzon Diaz, outfielder Steve Pearce and infielder Anderson Machado to minor league camp. Pearce and Diaz were optioned.
Diaz's demotion meant that Jaramillo won the duel to back up Ryan Doumit even though Diaz batted .423 to Jaramillo's .143, but Huntington made clear that is subject to change.
"We wanted a defender-first type in the early part of the season, and we felt like Jason was the better receiver," Huntington said. "It's a tough decision because Diaz deserves to be in the majors, and he's hit very well this spring. But I anticipate we'll be making a switch at some point."
Of Pearce, who batted .212 in 16 games and was slowed by a calf injury, Huntington said the plan is to have him play first base in Indianapolis, with an eye toward seeing if he can handle that role full-time in Pittsburgh. Adam LaRoche can be a free agent after the coming season.
"He's made great strides this spring," Huntington said. "If we felt his ceiling was as a bench player, he'd be here. We don't feel that way."
First Published March 28, 2009 11:10 am