Pirates make cuts to slim down roster
Seven pitchers, five position players sent down on Monday
BRADENTON, Fla. -- The Pirates made their first significant cuts of the spring on Monday morning, optioning seven pitchers to the Minors and reassigning five other players to Minor League camp.
Olivo Astacio, who is still not physically ready to pitch in games yet, will be starting the season in Class A Lynchburg, while Jimmy Barthmaier, Ronald Belisario and Yoslan Herrerra were all reassigned to Double-A Altoona.
The hard-throwing Belisario was impressive in his two innings of spring work, limiting opponents to just one hit. However, coming into Spring Training, the 25-year-old right-hander had only appeared in 18 games above the Class A level.
Barthmaier, who the Pirates claimed off waivers last fall, allowed one run in one Grapefruit League game, but was roughed up in a "B" game start that he made on Feb. 29.
Three players -- Dave Davidson, Luis Munoz and Romulo Sanchez -- were reassigned to Triple-A Indianapolis. Both Davidson and Sanchez spent time with the Pirates' Major League club last season.
Sanchez's inclusion in the first round of cuts was arguably the most surprising, considering he has had a decent spring showing and had been relatively effective during his month-long stint coming out of the Pirates' bullpen last season. The right-handed reliever made three appearances this spring, allowing one run and three hits in 2 2/3 innings.
Daniel Moskos, the team's first-round selection in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, was one of three pitchers reassigned to Minor League camp, joining Adam Bernero and Jesse Chavez. Moskos, who was the Pirates' only 2007 draft pick participating in Spring Training, has been told that he will start the year with one of the organization's two Class A teams.
The Pirates have been high on Bernero, but because the right-hander is just one month removed from Tommy John reconstruction surgery on his pitching elbow, he was not expected to be competing for a roster spot during Spring Training. The club will continue to look at him as a possible callup midway through the season.
Two position players -- catcher Miguel Perez and infielder Jose Macias -- were also reassigned. Signed to a Minor League contract on Dec. 22, Macias had initially been considered a potential competitor for a middle infield backup spot. However, with most of the playing time going to Josh Wilson and Luis Rivas during the past few weeks, it had become evident that Macias was no longer in consideration. He went hitless in four at-bats this spring.
Perez was one of five catchers still in Major League camp, but had not played in any of the team's Grapefruit League games.
In addition, after Monday's 8-5 win over the Phillies, the Pirates reassigned right-hander Mike Thompson to Minor League camp. Thompson pitched the eighth inning in Monday's game and allowed two runs on two hits. In his only previous outing, Thompson allowed one run on two hits in an inning.
With 13 players cut, the Pirates have 50 players left in camp, including 26 pitchers, four catchers, 12 infielders and eight outfielders. Right-hander Josh Sharpless and catcher Carlos Maldonado had already been reassigned to Minor League camp last week.
General manager Neal Huntington said that he has not set a date for the next group of cuts, though he said that circumstances may dictate cutting one or two players at a time on a few separate days in the meantime instead of doing a sweeping wave of cuts as was done on Monday.
With the team playing three home games in four days beginning next Sunday, however, it would seem that early next week would be a likely time for that next round of cuts to occur.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.