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Pirates notebook: Plenty of starting pitcher candidates

| Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, 3:54 p.m.
Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole delivers during the sixth inning against the Cardinals Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole delivers during the sixth inning against the Cardinals Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, at PNC Park.

WASHINGTON — When spring training begins in February, the Pirates could have as many as nine candidates for the starting rotation.

General manager Neal Huntington indicated whoever does not claim a starting job could end up in the big league bullpen.

“Typically, we've been hesitant to take a young starting pitcher and put him in the bullpen,” Huntington said Sunday. “The numbers we believe we're going to have next year will allow us to be more flexible.”

Ivan Nova, Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon are locks. Trevor Williams and Chad Kuhl pitched well enough this year to reclaim spots.

Despite his struggles, Tyler Glasnow has too much potential to give up on now. Steven Brault is the organization's minor league pitcher of the year. Nick Kingham and Clay Holmes did well at Triple-A Indianapolis.

“We may run some guys back and forth between Triple-A and the big leagues, in the Triple-A rotation and in the major league bullpen,” Huntington said. “We might be able to give a (struggling) guy a breather and get him to Triple-A to try to get him right and bring somebody else to our major league rotation. We've given ourselves some depth and some options.”

Jaso retires

John Jaso, who will be a free agent this winter, said he likely will retire.

“This is probably it for me, as far as baseball goes,” Jaso, 34, said after Sunday's game. “I've played this game for a while, it's done a lot of great things for me and I got to meet a lot of cool people along the way. But my mind is going elsewhere.”

Jaso plans to sail to Puerto Rico later this month and aid in the recovery from Hurricane Maria. After that, who knows?

“Traveling. Living simply. Being anonymous,” Jaso said. “That sort of stuff. I just want to sail away and live a simple life.”

Staffing decisions

Huntington expects the coaching staff will return intact in 2018.

“We recognize that we … need to be better, top to bottom,” Huntington said. “This is a hard-working, talented coaching staff.”

Previously, some of the coaches (such as pitching coach Ray Searage) have been on two-year contracts and others (such as hitting coach Jeff Branson) were on one-year deals. Huntington did not indicate if that will continue.

Two executives who were fired last week by the Miami Marlins — vice president of pitching development Jim Benedict and vice president of player development Marc DelPiano — could return to Pittsburgh.

“Those two were very helpful when they were here,” Huntington said. “As we said when Jim left, his impact will be ongoing because of the people that he helped us develop and helped step into the next role when we did leave. The same for Marc DelPiano. They're great baseball men. They've helped us over the years, and their impact is ongoing. We'll evaluate if there's a potential fit for them here in a different role.”

New arrivals

Late Friday night, Josh Harrison and his wife Brittany welcomed their second daughter, Kinsli Rose.

On Saturday, broadcaster Joe Block's wife Bethany delivered a son. Block left the game in Washington in the third inning when he found out his wife was in labor, and the baby was born while he was en route to Pittsburgh.

Jordy Mercer, David Freese and Andrew McCutchen also are expecting babies this offseason.

Aid for Puerto Rico

Pirates Charities will collect relief supplies to send to hurricane victims at Puerto Rico. Items may be dropped off in the cul-de-sac outside PNC Park from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday.

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

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