The plot thickens.
Reliever Bryan Morris and infielder Ivan De Jesus, both in contention to make the 25-man roster, were sent back to the minor-league camp today. Morris was a bit of a surprise. De Jesus should not have been. If he was, you haven’t been following closely.
Morris has pitched well in the minors. He is the last remnant of the infamous Jason Bay trade. He will be 26 next week. Considering how often injuries occur among pitchers, he could well spend some time with the Pirates this season. But if he cannot make this team and this bullpen at 26, his future is not bright.
He had a strange spring training line: An ERA of 5.14 and a BAA of .130. The fact Chris Leroux, another right-handed reliever, has pitched considerably better than Morris probably was a factor.
De Jesus, who will be 26 in May, is having a good spring. He is batting .406 (13 for 32). But in 73 MLB at bats, his average is .205 and with no power. Almost all of his MLB time has been at second base and third base, which means that in the field and at the plate he’s kind of a Josh Harrison clone. If the Pirates are keeping one of those two, it will be Harrison.
Still in contention for bench spots, with three of the five (when there are 12 pitchers) going to Gaby Sanchez, Michael McKenry and John McDonald, are Brandon Inge, Harrison, Jose Tabata and Alex Presley.
The bullpen picture is clouded by these factors:
* The team may well open the season with an 11-man staff and use an extra position player until another reliever or starter is needed.
* Jeff Karstens might not be ready to open the season in the rotation.
* Tony Watson has missed much of spring training and when he has pitched it has not been good (2.2 innings, .588 BAA). He could open the season on the DL.