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Pirates notebook: Decker optioned, but he acquits himself well

| Tuesday, March 25, 2014, 9:24 a.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
The Pirates' Jaff Decker runs out a bunt against the Phillies on Sunday, March 16, 2014, at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates reliever Jared Hughes pitches against the Twins Wednesday, March 12, 2014, at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla. Hughes was reassigned to minor league camp on Tuesday.

BRADENTON, Fla. — Jaff Decker did not surprise Pirates management with what he showed them during spring training. That's not a bad thing.

Decker was among 11 players cut from big league camp on Tuesday. He'll open the season as the everyday right fielder at Triple-A Indianapolis.

In 18 Grapefruit League games, Decker hit .250 with two RBIs and showed a strong throwing arm.

“He basically matched everything we thought we were getting: a good baseball player,” general manager Neal Huntington said. “Does just about everything on the field well. Gets on base, drives the ball gap to gap, (his swing) will get too big at times. He can bounce around all three outfield positions and plays all of them well. Good baserunner.”

Decker, 24, was acquired in November from the San Diego Padres. Last season in the hitter-friendly Triple-A Pacific Coast League, he hit .286 with 10 homers.

If the Pirates need to dip into their minor league depth for an outfielder this season, Decker likely would be the first choice.

“I'll be ready for when it happens,” Decker said. “All I can do is go to (Indianapolis) and play the same game that I've been playing. I still have things to work on to get back up here.”

Decker's departure leaves Jose Tabata, a right-handed batter, and Travis Snider, who hits left-handed, to share the right-field duties. The Pirates have told other teams that either player is available for a trade.

“Barring any changes, it will be a matchup-type situation this season,” Huntington said. “Clint (Hurdle, manager) will take the guy he thinks gives us the best chance to win that game. There will be some opportunities when we'll go right-on-right and maybe some left-on-left.”

Pirates acquire Worley

The Pirates acquired right-hander Vance Worley from the Minnesota Twins for cash considerations and assigned him to minor league camp. Worley, 26, made his big league debut in 2010 with the Philadelphia Phillies. Last season, he went 1-5 with a 7.10 ERA in 10 starts with the Twins.

More departures

Pitchers Adam Wilk, Jay Jackson, Zack Thornton and Daniel Schlereth; outfielder Chris Dickerson; catcher Omir Santos; and infielders Robert Andino and Michael Martinez were reassigned to minor league camp.

Reliever Jared Hughes was optioned to Indianapolis. The right-hander was on the Opening Day roster the past two seasons.

Last year, he battled injuries and had a 4.78 ERA in 29 outings with the Pirates. Hughes struggled with control, as evidenced by 16 walks in 32 innings.

Wandy leads hit parade

In his first Grapefruit League at-bat this spring, pitcher Wandy Rodriguez homered off Toronto Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ.

“It's a 3-2 count, and I knew the fastball was coming,” Rodriguez said with a laugh. “I made good contact and the wind helped me, too.”

The Pirates banged out 29 hits against Happ and his hapless relievers. Tabata went 4 for 4 with four RBIs, and Starling Marte went 5 for 6 with four RBIs.

“It's almost time for the season, so I've got to be ready,” Tabata said.

Around the horn

Left-hander Jeff Locke tossed three scoreless innings (47 pitches) in a camp game against Pirates Triple-A players. Locke did not allow a hit, walked two and struck out five. ... Right-hander Brandon Cumpton will replace Edinson Volquez as the starter Wednesday against the Twins. Volquez instead will throw two or three innings in a simulated game. Cumpton could be used as a spot starter if Francisco Liriano (groin) starts the season on the disabled list.

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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