BRADENTON, Fla. -- The Pirates pared down their Spring Training roster by four on Saturday morning, leaving only a few players competing for the remaining spots on Pittsburgh's Opening Day roster.Outfielder Jordan Luplow and catcher Jacob Stallings were optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis. Non-roster right-handers Tyler Jones and Richard Rodriguez were
BRADENTON, Fla. -- The Pirates pared down their Spring Training roster by four on Saturday morning, leaving only a few players competing for the remaining spots on Pittsburgh's Opening Day roster.
Outfielder Jordan Luplow and catcher Jacob Stallings were optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis. Non-roster right-handers Tyler Jones and Richard Rodriguez were reassigned to Minor League camp.
Luplow had been competing for a bench spot that may not exist on Opening Day if the Bucs decide to break camp with eight relievers. General manager Neal Huntington said the Pirates are "still working through" the composition of their Opening Day roster.
If they carry 13 position players, the final bench spot will likely go to corner infielder/outfielder Jose Osuna. Out-of-options outfielder Bryce Brentz, the other remaining candidate, was placed on outright waivers, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. If they break camp with 13 pitchers, as they've discussed, neither will be on the Opening Day roster.
The Pirates viewed Luplow as part of their plan in left field entering Spring Training, but the acquisition of Corey Dickerson bumped him down the depth chart. After making his Major League debut last season, Luplow will return to Triple-A to receive regular playing time. He hit a team-high-tying four home runs with a .237/.225/.579 slash line this spring.
"He's in that tough spot that we like him so much, we want him to continue to play, and want him to continue to develop," Huntington said. "We've told him we see him as a quality Major League-regular outfielder for years to come."
Luplow took the assignment in stride. A year ago, he was called over from Pirate City and, as a relative unknown, hit a double off Red Sox ace Chris Sale. On Saturday, he was one of the last players sent down to Minor League camp.
"It's been a whirlwind," Luplow said, laughing. "That's for sure."
Stallings is Pittsburgh's third catcher behind starter Francisco Cervelli and backup Elias Diaz. Stallings went 7-for-19 with two doubles, two walks and no strikeouts this spring. Huntington said the Pirates have "complete comfort" in calling up Stallings if either Cervelli or Diaz is sidelined.
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Rodriguez allowed three runs on six hits and struck out nine in 7 1/3 innings over eight appearances this spring. Jones got off to a hot start, but wound up allowing four runs on 10 hits in 8 2/3 innings over his nine Grapefruit League appearances. Both should join the Triple-A bullpen to start the season.
Felipe Rivero, George Kontos, Steven Brault and Tyler Glasnow have been guaranteed spots in the bullpen. Huntington recently said Michael Feliz will likely handle high-leverage situations as well. The remaining Opening Day relief candidates in camp are Kyle Crick, Josh Smoker, Dovydas Neverauskas, Edgar Santana, Jordan Milbrath and Kevin Siegrist.
Around the horn
• The Pirates have not yet decided if Siegrist, a non-roster left-hander, will start the season in Triple-A or the Majors. Siegrist got a late start to the spring after signing on Feb. 24, and Huntington said the club is still deliberating whether he would benefit from additional time in Indianapolis to build arm strength.
They also have not come to a decision on Milbrath, the Rule 5 Draft pick who would have to be offered back to the Indians if he does not crack the Opening Day roster.
• Right-hander Ivan Nova made his final tune-up start before Opening Day, allowing two runs on five hits and a walk, with three strikeouts in the Pirates' 7-5 win over the Rays on Saturday at LECOM Park. Nova's next outing is against the Tigers on Thursday at Comerica Park.
"I thought it was a very professional camp for him," manager Clint Hurdle said. "Time to go."
• Glasnow pitched 3 2/3 innings in relief on Saturday, giving up two runs on five hits with six strikeouts and no walks. Glasnow has recorded 25 strikeouts and only five walks this spring.
"I don't think it'll be too crazy of an adjustment for me," Glasnow said of his new relief role. "I'm excited to be with the team."
Right-hander Joe Musgrove is scheduled to work five innings as the Pirates face the Blue Jays at Dunedin Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Bullpen candidates Crick, Smoker and Siegrist are also expected to pitch for Pittsburgh. The game will feature an exclusive audio webcast live on KDKA-FM and the Pirates Radio Network, with first pitch set for 1:07 p.m. ET.
Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.