Pirates will keep Rule 5 pickup
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Rule 5 pickup Josh Rodriguez will be on the Pirates' Opening Day roster.
Infielder Pedro Ciriaco was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis on Sunday afternoon, a few minutes after he helped the Pirates beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 5-4.
Ciriaco's departure means Rodriguez, who was claimed in December when he was left unprotected by the Cleveland Indians, will be the backup at shortstop, second base and third base.
"It's a big opportunity for me," Rodriguez said. "I'll play my role. I'll come off the bench and basically do everything in my power to make the team better."
Rodriguez either must remain on the 25-man roster all season or be offered back to the Indians for half of the $50,000 claim fee.
Last year, the Pirates returned outfielder John Raynor to Florida after keeping him for just one month in the majors. The Pirates hung onto their previous two Rule 5 picks, pitchers Donnie Veal and Evan Meek.
Rodriguez, 26, hit .293 last season in 86 games at Columbus, the Indians' Triple-A affiliate. Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said Rodriguez proved during spring training that he is adept enough defensively to hold his own in the big leagues.
"He's not your typical Rule 5 guy," Huntington said. "He's a little better-equipped to handle the major league environment than a typical Rule 5 guy."
At Indianapolis, Ciriaco will not get regular playing time at a single position, as Brian Friday will start at second and Chase d'Arnaud will play short. Instead, Ciriaco will get time at second, third, shortstop and center field.
"Pedro's short-term future is as a super-utility guy," Huntington said. "We may or may not need a shortstop next year, depending upon what Ronny (Cedeno) does."
Ciriaco hit .333 this spring and played in a team-high 26 games. Yesterday, he reached on a throwing error in the bottom of the ninth, which allowed Rodriguez to score the winning run. Rodriguez has played in 20 games and is batting .303.
Manager Clint Hurdle admitted the Pirates are sacrificing some bench speed by keeping Rodriguez instead of Ciriaco.
"We've got nothing to lose here," Hurdle said. "We've got to try some things. We need to be creative and open-minded. We're not going to have a traditional lineup. We're not going to have a traditional starting rotation or bullpen. But we're going to go out and play."
"When I came over here, they didn't mess with me to a big extent. They wanted to figure me out and get a feel for what I'm trying to do with my swing." -- Josh Rodriguez
16 -- Consecutive games in which Andrew McCutchen has reached base
3 -- Blown saves this spring by Chris Leroux