Pirates round out September roster

Tucker, Martin, Rios recalled; Baron's contract selected

September 4th, 2019

PITTSBURGH -- With Major League rosters expanded and Triple-A Indianapolis’ season over, the Pirates called up their September reinforcements before Tuesday’s series opener against the Marlins.

Pittsburgh recalled shortstop Cole Tucker, outfielder Jason Martin and right-hander Yacksel Rios from Indianapolis. The Bucs also selected the contract of catcher Steven Baron and activated left-hander Wei-Chung Wang, who was claimed off waivers on Saturday.

The Pirates only made one roster move on Sunday, when active rosters expanded from 25 to 40 players, reinstating right-hander Clay Holmes from the injured list.

The club will activate relievers Chris Stratton (right side inflammation) and Yefry Ramirez (right calf strain) whenever they are ready to return from the 10-day IL. There is also a chance the Pirates will add right-hander Alex McRae to their roster, as McRae worked out at PNC Park on Tuesday.

With those pitchers active, Pittsburgh would have a 14-man bullpen behind its five-man rotation.

“Keeping everybody sharp, that’s not going to happen,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “We’ll look for opportunities to get everybody involved to the best of our ability. … We’ll be ready for extra innings or a doubleheader if we run into it.”

The Pirates want to get a look at the hard-throwing Rios, who owns a 6.38 ERA in 53 Major League appearances. The 26-year-old put together a 2.35 ERA in nine outings for Indianapolis. They also want to evaluate Wang, 27, as a potential option for next season. Wang pitched in Pittsburgh’s system as a starter in 2013 before the Brewers selected him in the Rule 5 Draft and moved him to the bullpen.

“That was a hard transition for him to try to pitch in the Major Leagues with limited experience in the Minor Leagues,” Hurdle said. “Now, he’s got some more Major League experience and it’s a left-handed option. We’ll see how that plays out.”

Baron will finish out the year as the Bucs’ third catcher, serving as an emergency backstop behind Elias Diaz and Jacob Stallings, after spending all season in Triple-A. Tucker and Martin will factor into the mix on a more regular basis after making their Major League debuts earlier this season.

Martin could prove himself worthy of a spot on Pittsburgh’s Opening Day roster next season. Tucker will play shortstop and second base, potentially even lining up alongside Kevin Newman in the middle infield. Hurdle said that both players will get some starts this month.

That was the extent of the Pirates' roster additions. The Bucs didn’t promote infielder Kevin Kramer, third-base prospect Ke’Bryan Hayes or first baseman Will Craig. Part of the reason? They didn’t see enough playing time to go around, and most of the players on the current roster are set to return next season as well.

“Those guys put in their full seasons. We’ll look for them to have good, healthy, productive offseasons and put themselves in position to make some noise next spring,” Hurdle said. “Basically, we’ve got enough people here -- with the minor additions we’ve made -- that everybody’s going to be engaged. We believe we can keep everybody engaged and active, and we can get better reads on the people that are here.”

Around the horn

• The Pirates on Tuesday dismissed Double-A Altoona manager Michael Ryan, who became Altoona’s winningest manager this season. The Bucs did not provide Ryan with a detailed explanation, according to a source, simply saying that they were looking to move in a different direction.

“We have informed Michael Ryan that he would not be managing in Altoona for the 2020 season, and discussed other potential non-managing roles in the organization with him,” Pirates director of Minor League operations Larry Broadway said in a statement. “Michael is exploring opportunities with other organizations and we support his efforts. We appreciate Michael’s efforts and who he is as a person and wish him well.”

• Newman was out of the lineup for the second straight game on Tuesday. During an appearance on the Bucs’ pregame radio show on Sunday, assistant general manager Kyle Stark said Newman was dealing with some tightness in his leg. Erik Gonzalez started at shortstop.

• Hurdle said that the Pirates will encourage Gonzalez to play winter ball this offseason. After being named the Opening Day shortstop during Spring Training, Gonzalez missed more than three months due to a fractured collarbone and a strained left hamstring. Newman has claimed the starting shortstop job, but Gonzalez has experience as a utility infielder.