Pirates notebook: Team finalizes Opening Day roster, designate Mazzaro

Travis Sawchik
| Saturday, March 29, 2014, 5:21 p.m.

PHILADELPHIA — The Pirates finalized their Opening Day 25-man roster Saturday, designating for assignment a significant reliever from their 2013 roster in Vin Mazzaro.

The Pirates had a logjam of four out-of-options relievers competing for three spots. The Pirates elected to keep Stolmy Pimentel and Jeanmar Gomez — both can work as a starter or reliever — over Mazzaro, who posted a 2.81 ERA over 73 23 innings last season. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle told reporters Friday night that Bryan Morris had made the roster after an impressive spring performance.

General manager Neal Huntington described the decision to cut ties with Mazzaro as “difficult.”

“(We) worked with Clint (Hurdle) on a bullpen that will provide us with length, depth and versatility. Short-term and long-term balance. Our challenge is we had four guys who we liked a lot,” Huntington said. “Mazzaro took the ball in some length roles for us last year and he got some important outs for us in (later innings). With what we see from Bryan Morris, we think he can do that and grow into something more. In Pimentel, we see a guy that has all the ability to be a starter as we move forward. Jeanmar took the ball in about every role.”

By designating Mazzaro for assignment, the Pirates have 10 days to trade the right-hander, place him on waivers or release him. Huntington doubted Mazzaro would clear waivers. Mazzaro agreed to a one-year, $950,000 contract with the club earlier this offseason to avoid arbitration.

“That may be where the holdup has been. (Teams) have waited for us to make a decision,” Huntington said of the trade market. “Maybe now this will simplify other teams' process.”

As expected, the Pirates purchased the contract of Travis Ishikawa, the only nonroster invitee to make the 25-man roster. Hurdle said Ishikawa will not be used in a pure platoon at first base, and Gaby Sanchez will see at-bats against right-handed pitchers.

The Pirates placed Jeff Locke (side strain) and Chris Stewart (knee surgery) on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 21. The Pirates also outrighted Andy Oliver off the 40-man roster. The Pirates have one empty spot on their 40-man roster.

Liriano has green light

Liriano, who had groin discomfort last week, completed a bullpen session without issue Friday and said he is ready for his Opening Day start Monday against the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park.

“It doesn't bother me at all,” Liriano said Saturday. “Everything is good.”

Cole rained out

Gerrit Cole was scheduled to make a final tune-up start Saturday against the Philadelphia Phillies, but with the game rained out, Cole had to settle for bullpen work in a rainy, chilly Citizens Bank Park.

Cole is in line to start the third game of the season against the Cubs, following Liriano and Charlie Morton.

Opening Day logistics

The Pirates are encouraging fans attending the opener to arrive as early as possible. The Roberto Clemente Bridge will close to vehicular traffic at 9 a.m. All parking lots and garages on the North Shore will be closed to commuter traffic and will open at 9 a.m. with event rates. Fans can park at the Consol Energy Center lots ($7.25) and ride the T to North Side Station for free Monday. Fans can who park west of Allegheny Avenue also can ride the T for free to the North Side Station.

Travis Sawchik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at tsawchik@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Sawchik_Trib.

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