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Pirates open 2018 with 13-man pitching staff

Versatility on bench gave Bucs options to go with extra arm early on
MLB.com @adamdberry

DETROIT -- The Pirates' Opening Day roster is officially set.

Pittsburgh announced its 25-man roster on Thursday, shortly after the season opener was postponed until Friday at 1:10 p.m. ET. Things could change over the next few weeks, especially as the Pirates balance an eight-man bullpen with a short but versatile bench, and it's a certainty that they'll need more than these 25 players over the course of the year.

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DETROIT -- The Pirates' Opening Day roster is officially set.

Pittsburgh announced its 25-man roster on Thursday, shortly after the season opener was postponed until Friday at 1:10 p.m. ET. Things could change over the next few weeks, especially as the Pirates balance an eight-man bullpen with a short but versatile bench, and it's a certainty that they'll need more than these 25 players over the course of the year.

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To cut their roster down to 25 players, the Bucs placed reliever A.J. Schugel (right shoulder discomfort) on the 10-day disabled list, retroactive to Monday.

The most interesting competition took place in the bullpen. The Pirates surprised some by carrying eight relievers -- but neither right-hander Kyle Crick, who was part of the Andrew McCutchen trade, nor lefty Kevin Siegrist, who has more Major League experience than most of their relievers. It seems likely both will be called up at some point this season. That's also the case for corner infielder/outfielder Jose Osuna, who was pushed to Triple-A by the expanded bullpen.

It's also entirely possible the Bucs, with three open spots on their 40-man roster, will be active on the waiver wire this weekend. But for now, here's the group that officially broke camp and came north.

Catcher (2): Francisco Cervelli, Elias Diaz
Cervelli enjoyed an outstanding spring, and Diaz is ready to be the big league backup.

First base (1): Josh Bell
This was never in question. Bell is coming off a much better spring than last year, too.

Second base (1): Josh Harrison
Harrison requested a trade in January, but he's still here as a critical part of the Pirates' roster.

Shortstop (1): Jordy Mercer
This will be Mercer's fifth and presumably final Opening Day start as Pittsburgh's shortstop.

Third base (2): Colin Moran, David Freese
Moran hit for a high average and played solid defense this spring, cementing himself as the starter. Freese displayed more pop at the plate and showed up well defensively at third and first base.

Utility (2): Adam Frazier, Sean Rodriguez
Spring Training reminded us that this duo will play everywhere, including shortstop and center field. Frazier will hit leadoff when he starts. Rodriguez struck out a team-high 19 times but clubbed four homers. At some point, if the pitching staff finds its footing, the Pirates will balance their bench with someone like Osuna, Max Moroff or Jordan Luplow.

Outfield (3): Corey Dickerson, Starling Marte, Gregory Polanco
It's no secret that the Bucs' level of success likely depends on these three. Polanco had an encouraging spring, but he's still waiting to prove his potential. Marte quietly put up strong numbers as he worked to put last year's suspension behind him. Dickerson -- a potential left-handed power bat acquired in late February -- handled himself well enough in left field, where he'll play every day.

Rotation (5): Ivan Nova, Jameson Taillon, Chad Kuhl, Trevor Williams, Joe Musgrove
This was the group coming into camp, and it didn't change. Their Spring Training numbers don't jump off the page, aside from Taillon, but this group is confident it can outperform their projections this season.

Bullpen (8): Felipe Rivero, George Kontos, Michael Feliz, Steven Brault, Tyler Glasnow, Josh Smoker, Dovydas Neverauskas, Edgar Santana
The first five came into focus pretty quickly -- the back-end trio of Rivero, Kontos and Feliz, along with the converted-starter duo of Brault and Glasnow. After that, nobody stepped up and unquestionably claimed a job. But the Pirates like what they see in Smoker (a hard-throwing lefty with a better slider than he's shown in the past), Neverauskas (likely to start as the mid-inning fireman) and Santana (late-inning makeup, a hard fastball and a devastating slider when he's ahead in the count).

It's the first Opening Day for one-fifth of the roster: Moran, Diaz, Brault, Neverauskas and Santana.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

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