Pirates notebook: Taillon injury tests pitching depth
With top pitching prospect Jameson Taillon out for the season, the Pirates will need someone to step in and fill perhaps a bigger role than initially anticipated, general manager Neal Huntington said Sunday.
“Is it one of the guys in the current bullpen?” he said. “Is it a healthy Jeff Locke once he gets stretched out? Is it Brandon Cumpton again? Is it Phil Irwin again?
“Or does somebody step up the way Phil Irwin did a year ago and take that opportunity because of timing or performance?”
Locke, who is on the disabled list with a right oblique strain, threw Friday and is on track to throw 100 pitches with High-A Bradenton on Wednesday, according to Huntington.
“He's doing great,” Huntington said. “The ball's coming out of his hand great, spinning it really well, aggressive in the zone and he's feeling really good.”
Another pitcher who could factor more into the Pirates' Taillon-less future is Vance Worley. The Pirates acquired Worley from the Twins for cash at the end of March to see if time spent in their Triple-A organization could help him get back to being the pitcher he was in 2011, when he went 11-3 with the Phillies.
“Our guys have liked what they've seen so far,” Huntington said of Worley. “Right now it's really just about getting to know him and earning his trust and trying to figure out how we can best help him. He isn't too far removed from being a solid major league pitcher.
“He had a very tough year a year ago. Why? How? What's worked, what hasn't worked? We're just getting him built up. We're very early in the process, but our guys have been very positive in what they've seen early.”
No Mazzaro movement
The Pirates designated Vin Mazzaro for assignment on March 29, giving them 10 days to trade him or put him on waivers. Huntington said he's “absolutely surprised” they haven't been able to trade the right-handed reliever who set career-highs in appearances (57) and wins (eight) last season.
“Given the year he had a year ago we thought there would be a nice trade market for him, and that has not materialized,” Huntington said. “We've worked hard to try to find a good fit for him and ultimately try to place him, and we haven't been able to do that as of yet, obviously.
“If he unexpectedly gets through waivers, we add a very good pitcher back into our system if he opts to stay. But it would shock me (if he got through waivers). He's a solid major league pitcher. We just haven't found a club that's been willing to step up.”
Luis Heredia made his first start of the season for Low-A West Virginia on Sunday and took the loss, giving up four runs on six hits over five innings. … Gregory Polanco was 3 for 5 with a home run and two RBIs for Triple-A Indianapolis on Sunday. Andrew Lambo was 0 for 4.
Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @KarenPrice_Trib.
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