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Pirates notebook: Free-agent-to-be Juan Nicasio would consider offer to re-sign

Rob Biertempfel
| Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, 2:36 p.m.
Cardinals relief pitcher Juan Nicasio throws during the ninth inning against the Pirates on Friday, Sept. 22, 2017.
Cardinals relief pitcher Juan Nicasio throws during the ninth inning against the Pirates on Friday, Sept. 22, 2017.

Soon-to-be free-agent reliever Juan Nicasio, who left the Pirates four weeks ago under contentious circumstances, is willing to listen if his former team makes him an offer this winter.

“Yes, I would consider it,” Nicasio said Sunday. “I liked it there a lot.”

The Pirates cut Nicasio at the end of August by placing him on irrevocable waivers. He was claimed by the Philadelphia Phillies, who later traded him to the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Pirates got nothing in return for losing Nicasio, although they did save about $600,000 in salary. Nicasio will be a free agent this offseason.

Nicasio this season blossomed as the primary setup man for Pirates closer Felipe Rivero. In six games with the Cardinals, Nicasio is 2-0 with two saves and a 2.35 ERA.

Brault, Glasnow to pen

Steven Brault and Tyler Glasnow were available out of the bullpen Sunday, an indication neither will make another start this season.

“(Having) three off days in the final month of the season, (including) two in a five-day stretch as you're trying to get seven starters innings, it just doesn't work,” general manager Neal Huntington said Sunday.

Trevor Williams (Tuesday) and Chad Kuhl (Wednesday) will pitch the two games this week against the Baltimore Orioles. The Pirates have not yet revealed their rotation for the season-ending, four-game series against the Washington Nationals.

Kang in the Dominican

Jung Ho Kang has begun preseason workouts with Aguilas Cibaenas of the Dominican Winter League.

As a non-native, Kang may stay in the Dominican Republic for up to 90 days. Huntington said the Pirates have been given an exemption from MLB so they do not have to take Kang off the restricted list while he's playing winter ball.

Kang will play third base for Aguilas.

“Our focus is getting him back competitive … getting him back up to the speed of the game again,” Huntington said. “Depending upon how he feels and how things are going, we might want him to bounce around (positions) a little bit. His ability to play short this year was more of a club need than a target for us going forward.”

Unable to get a work visa to enter the United States after his third DUI conviction in South Korea, Kang sat out this season. There is no indication yet whether he'll be able to play for the Pirates in 2018.

“We'll get to a point where if we still don't know, we'll plan as if he's not going to be here,” Huntington said. “We'll need to know early in the offseason, for sure.”

Hurdle walks the line

The Pirates lineup Sunday included just three players — Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte and Jameson Taillon — who were on the opening day roster.

Starters Chris Bostick, Jordan Luplow, Max Moroff and Jacob Stallings began the day with a combined 97 games played in the majors.

With the Pirates out of the race, the final stretch of the season is a good time to see how younger players perform.

Yet the Pirates also have a responsibility field a team that's true to the spirit of the game, especially when facing contenders, Hurdle said. The lineups Friday and Saturday against the St. Louis Cardinals were composed of mostly veteran starters.

“We've definitely walked that line,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “We've been representative of the game, representative of the organization, representative of the opponent.”

When filling out the lineup card, Hurdle is mindful of the nagging injuries that have dogged Marte (hand, shoulder) and Jordy Mercer (left knee).

“We want to put out a good effort every night,” Hurdle said. “We need to take care of the organization. I don't have any doubt that the teams we've put out have been the best teams we could put out there that night.”

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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