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Bucs set with RF options, but eyeing market

Following Marte's 80-game suspension, Pittsburgh leaning on internal candidates
MLB.com

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates are monitoring the market for available outfielders, general manager Neal Huntington said, but they are comfortable moving forward with the group they have following Starling Marte's 80-game suspension.

Significant trades in April and May are rare, and few impact free agents remain available. But players do become available on the waiver wire, and two outfielders were designated for assignment over the past two days: the Brewers' Kirk Nieuwenhuis and the Mariners' Leonys Martin.

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PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates are monitoring the market for available outfielders, general manager Neal Huntington said, but they are comfortable moving forward with the group they have following Starling Marte's 80-game suspension.

Significant trades in April and May are rare, and few impact free agents remain available. But players do become available on the waiver wire, and two outfielders were designated for assignment over the past two days: the Brewers' Kirk Nieuwenhuis and the Mariners' Leonys Martin.

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Neither has hit well this season, and the Bucs may elect to pass on both if they feel more confident in their current options: Adam Frazier, John Jaso and Jose Osuna.

"We like the group we have. We're looking for external options," Huntington said. "If we felt there was something better internally at this point in time, we'd make that move. As we sit here today, this is the right 25 for us in our minds.

"If we felt there was a way to upgrade upon this group that was realistic and practical, we absolutely would do it. We haven't found that."

Video: PIT@STL: Jaso lays out to make a fine catch in right

Huntington reiterated that prospect Austin Meadows is "not the answer" as he continues to develop at Triple-A Indianapolis. For now, the Pirates will rely on a right-field rotation of players who came up at other positions. Frazier was a college shortstop who is probably best suited for second base. Osuna is a natural first baseman. Jaso was a catcher/designated hitter-turned-first baseman with limited outfield experience.

"I think a manager always likes to have eight guys who he feels comfortable with. The reality is, we've got different options with different strengths and different attributes," Huntington said. "[Manager Clint Hurdle] will go with the matchup he feels best about, whether it's the pitcher matchup or the defensive matchup, whether it aligns him to need to make a defensive move later or not, depending upon either club's bullpen. There is a ton that goes into Clint's decision.

"If one of these guys steps up and takes it and owns the position, that's great. Otherwise, we'll mix and match and put out the best lineup that Clint feels is available that day."

Video: NYY@PIT: Osuna triples for his first Major League hit

The Pirates want Marte to report to their Spring Training facility in Bradenton, Fla., to work out during his suspension. Marte is allowed to play only in extended spring games, not official games. Fifteen days before his suspension ends, Marte can begin a Minor League assignment.

"Starling acknowledges he made a mistake. He's going to pay significantly for that mistake," Huntington said. "We're going to cover 80 games with 25 guys who are going to show up and fight, and they're going to give everything they can. They believe they can win games. We believe they can win games. When he's eligible to come back in, we'll figure out a way to fold him back into the process."

Huntington said the Pirates were "blindsided" by the news of Marte's suspension when the club was informed late Monday night. Marte's teammates were also surprised on Tuesday when they learned of suspension, the result of a positive test for the performance enhancing substance Nandralone.

"We had no idea, no knowledge that this was coming," Huntington said. "The player [was] made aware. The appeal process was exhausted. Once the appeal process is exhausted, the club is made aware. We were caught off-guard just like everybody else."

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

Pittsburgh Pirates, Adam Frazier, John Jaso, Jose Osuna