Bucs likely to load up on players with Majors experience
Besides Diaz, Pirates may call up Decker, Florimon when rosters expand
PITTSBURGH -- It has already been a 2015 season to savor, and the Pirates are about to add a lot more seasoning to the recipe.
When the 25-man roster expands on Tuesday, many teams will flood their clubhouse with young blood, giving players their first big league taste and offering fans a glimpse into the future.
The Bucs, conversely, will load up on players with Major League experience.
This unique situation is enabled by general manager Neal Huntington's savvy acquisitions and his sales job to some of the veterans who could have become free agents during the course of the season by rejecting assignments to the Minors, but decided to stick around. Now they will be called upon, because the only future of immediate concern to the Pirates is the 33 games remaining in the National League Central race.
Of the eight players expected in the first wave of recalls, seven are seasoned Major Leaguers. The only exception is significant: No. 14 prospect Elias Diaz, who has completed his rapid rise in the pecking order of the club's catching prospects by batting .271 in his first full season on the Triple-A level.
Six of the other seven have all already appeared with the Pirates this season. And the seventh, Travis Snider, returns after being a huge factor down the stretch in 2014.
Here are thumbnails of the expected arrivals and their likely role:
He'll immediately become the best defensive catcher on board. Diaz's arsenal includes a terrific arm, so he will be a late-game deterrent to the Bucs getting stolen blind.
He'll be the No. 1 lefty bat off the bench. Before relieving a slumping Gregory Polanco in right field last season, Snider batted .250 with two homers as the Pirates' busiest pinch-hitter.
Jaff Decker, outfielder
A superb defender, he will give Clint Hurdle a third option in center field for late-game moves.
Pedro Florimon, outfielder
See "Decker," and apply to shortstop.
Bobby LaFromboise, left-handed pitcher
He will be what neither of the two incumbent lefties in the bullpen (Tony Watson, Antonio Bastardo) are -- a matchup southpaw.
Radhames Liz, right-handed pitcher
After an effective early-season tenure in the Bucs' bullpen, he returned to starting in Indianapolis and posted a 1.67 ERA in 10 starts. Liz will be a staff wild card.
Vance Worley, right-handed pitcher
He may not be an early callup, because J.A. Happ's effectiveness negates an immediate need for a starter, but the Pirates will eventually want to enlist his experience.
Rob Scahill, right-handed pitcher
He may also be left off the first boat, in which case he will remain on call as a hard-throwing fireman who has spent two months working his way back from forearm issues.
Eight additions will not mean a 33-man army: Four of them (Snider, Florimon, Liz and Worley) are not on the 40-man roster, so players will have to be lopped off to make room. That math is fine with Huntington, mindful of not overloading Hurdle's plate.
"There can be too many bodies and guys not quite as engaged as the 25 that have been battling through it all year long, so you're sensitive to it," Huntington said.