Pirates Notebook: Roster pared to 25, but done?
Pirates first baseman Lyle Overbay fields an RBI groundout by the Phillies' Wilson Valdez in the second inning Wednesday.
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PHILADELPHIA -- The Pirates optioned reliever Chris Leroux to Class AAA Indianapolis, paring their roster to the 25-man limit on the day they finished spring training by beating the Philadelphia Phillies, 4-1, Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park.
The final bullpen spot had come down to Leroux or Garrett Olson, the lone left-hander.
• Starting pitchers: Kevin Correia, Paul Maholm, Ross Ohlendorf, Charlie Morton, James McDonald.
• Relievers: Joel Hanrahan, Evan Meek, Chris Resop, Jeff Karstens, Jose Veras, Mike Crotta, Olson.
• Catchers: Ryan Doumit, Jason Jaramillo.
• Infielders: Lyle Overbay, Neil Walker, Pedro Alvarez, Ronny Cedeno, Steve Pearce, Josh Rodriguez.
• Outfielders: Jose Tabata, Andrew McCutchen, Matt Diaz, Garrett Jones, John Bowker.
But there could be changes. The Pirates still must make a move on the 40-man roster to clear space for Veras, and there were strong indications that more than that was afoot.
"The roster's not set," manager Clint Hurdle said after the game. "There are things out there spinning around, and you never know. But the people we have here, if nothing changes, we feel confident to go out and get involved in the season. That's why we worked hard all spring."
Crotta, 26, will be the only newcomer to the majors.
"It's awesome, just great," he said. "My whole approach was staying down in the zone, and that's what I did."
Olson, 27, was claimed off waivers earlier this month from Seattle.
"It's a good situation for me, and I'm ready for it," he said.
The opening-day payroll -- the addition of all full-season salaries on the 25-man roster, plus four injured players -- would be $43,875,000.
Team president Frank Coonelly said that bonuses and other variables should take that cost closer to $50 million by season's end.
Morton shrugged off his only flat outing of the spring by pitching five terrific innings against Philadelphia, allowing one unearned run, one Jimmy Rollins single and two walks.
That came on the strength of his sinker, with 12 of the 15 outs coming on the ground.
"Once I started getting confidence, seeing the ball hit on the ground, that's what I wanted to see," Morton said. "The most important thing is that I got to come here and pitch against a good lineup, getting back into this atmosphere."
Morton's 2.63 ERA was nearly two runs better than anyone in the rotation.
He deflected credit to Crotta, who taught him the current sinker grip last summer. The three-quarters delivery that pitching coach Ray Searage implemented this spring allowed Morton to stay "on top of the ball," and the combination has been highly effective.
Alvarez hit a two-run home run in the second inning off Philadelphia left-hander Cole Hamels.
The Pirates finished 12-21 this spring.
• Other team leaders: Overbay had the highest batting average with 50-plus at-bats, at .368, as well as the most RBIs with 13. McCutchen was close behind at .348 with 12 RBIs. Walker and Overbay tied for most home runs, with four each.
• McDonald will make a five-inning start today in Florida and remains scheduled to take his turn Wednesday in St. Louis.
• Bryan Morris, one of the system's top pitching prospects, will open the year again with Class AA Altoona, something of a surprise. The Pirates want some of their Indianapolis rotation to be major league ready, limiting the spots for prospects there.
• The Pirates sent second baseman Jim Negrych to Florida for catcher Carlos Paulino. Negrych, a Pitt graduate and the organization's minor league player of the year in '08, had asked to be dealt if left off the Class AAA roster. Paulino, 21, batted .182 in Class A last year.
First Published March 31, 2011 12:00 am