MLB Insiders: Pittsburgh Pirates

Daniel McCutchen

Daniel McCutchen earned the Pirates' fifth starting job, as Kevin Hart was optioned to Class AAA Indianapolis after pitching poorly this spring.

McCutchen, a 27-year-old right-hander who pitched respectably for Pittsburgh in six starts last year, had a 2.25 ERA in two spring starts.

Hart, another 27-year-old righty, gave up eight runs in 4 2/3 innings over three spring starts. Most alarming was the fact that he walked 13 batters.

The Pirates love power arms, and Hart's fastball routinely reaches 96 mph. They also discounted part of Hart's struggles by pointing out that he was still getting comfortable with changes to his pitching mechanics made by pitching coach Joe Kerrigan during the offseason and at the beginning of spring training.

"Kevin is working on things, and he's made a lot of progress," manager John Russell said. "He just hasn't been able to take it into the game yet. You see signs of it, and then he reverts back a little bit. We'll see where we go. He realizes what position he's in. At some point, he's got to equate that to a game."

The Pirates won't use their fifth starter until April 10, one week after the final exhibition game.

Notes, Quotes

* RHP Octavio Dotel was scheduled to pitch in a major league exhibition game for the first time March 21, when he was to pitch one inning against Tampa Bay at Bradenton, Fla. Signed as a free agent in the offseason to be the closer, Dotel suffered a strained muscle in his left ribcage that sidelined him until he pitched one inning in a minor league exhibition game March 18.

* RHP Joel Hanrahan threw 25 pitches in the bullpen on March 15. That marked the first time Hanrahan had thrown a pitch off a mound since reporting to spring training with a strained pronator-flexor in his right arm.

* INF Ramon Vazquez had been seeing quite a bit of time at shortstop this spring as the Pirates are showcasing the veteran for a potential trade. It seems Vazquez has little chance of making the team, and the Pirates would like someone to at least take part of his $2 million salary off their hands.

* 2B/OF Delwyn Young hit five home runs in the span of six games between March 13-19, all but assuring his spot on the opening-day roster after he came to spring training in danger of being traded or waived. Through his first 11 Grapefruit League games, Young was 11-for-30 (.367) with the five homers, one double and 14 RBIs.

* OF Brandon Moss began the spring by going hitless in his first 22 at-bats before finally singling off Boston's Jorge Sosa on March 19. Moss was considered to be on the bubble as far as making the opening-day roster when spring training began and did not help his cause by hitting .043 in his first 12 games.

* LHP Javier Lopez and LHP Jack Taschner were staging a good battle for what could one spot for a left-hander in the bullpen. Lopez did not allowed a run in his first six innings of the exhibition season, and Taschner allowed only one run in his first seven innings.

* 3B Pedro Alvarez, the Pirates' top prospect, went 8-for-27 (.296) with two doubles and two triples before being optioned to Class AAA Indianapolis with LHP Donnie Veal, RHP Brad Lincoln, INF Argenis Diaz, OF Brandon Jones and OF Jose Tabata. RHP Ramon Aguero was optioned to Class AA Altoona with RHP Ronald Uviedo and OF Gorkys Hernandez. RHP Bryan Morris was optioned to high Class A Bradenton, and 11 players were reassigned to the minor league camp: LHP Neal Cotts, LHP Justin Thomas, RHP Jimmy Barthmaier, RHP Craig Hansen, RHP Virgil Vasquez, RHP Tyler Yates, C Tony Sanchez, INF Doug Bernier, INF Brian Friday and OF Jonathan Van Every.

By The Numbers: 754 2/3—Innings pitched by LHP Paul Maholm since 2005, the most by any National League left-hander during that time.

Quote To Note: "I'll let them worry about that." —RHP Kevin Hart, when asked if he has hurt his chances of making the rotation in the eyes of management with his poor spring performances.

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