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Pimentel vying to crack Bucs' pitching staff

BRADENTON, Fla. -- The battle for jobs in a Spring Training manager Clint Hurdle conceded "could very well be the most competitive from a pitching standpoint since I've been here" may revolve around Stolmy Pimentel.

The Bucs have six established starters vying for five spots, as well as a top bullpen that returns intact. Yet, both starters and relievers may have to protect their jobs from Pimentel, someone the Pittsburgh staff loves and who is out of options.

"So we know what's at stake there," Hurdle said following Sunday's workout. "He's a very exciting young man to watch. We like his makeup and his skills. And what we were able to get from him last year."

Pimentel, 24, was part of the four-player package general manager Neal Huntington acquired from Boston last winter in the Joel Hanrahan deal. As a September callup, Pimentel allowed two earned runs in five relief appearances covering 9 1/3 innings, with nine strikeouts and a pair of walks. Before that, in a combined 27 starts at Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis, he'd fashioned a 3.35 ERA.

The Bucs will primarily consider him for a Jeanmar Gomez-like role, a long reliever able to make spot starts. In the long-term, though, Hurdle said, "We still envision him as a starter."

"He will have every opportunity to break [camp] with the big club," Hurdle stressed.

Tom Singer is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer.
Read More: Pittsburgh Pirates, Stolmy Pimentel