TAMPA — The Pirates won’t make another big round of cuts until Saturday at the earliest, and the 25-man roster won’t be finalized until a day or two before the season begins.
But even at this point, I don’t think it’s too difficult to project who will break camp with the team after the March 29 Grapefruit League finale. I’ll take it a step further and predict the Opening Day lineup:
Nate McLouth, cf
Jack Wilson, ss
Freddy Sanchez, 2b
Adam LaRoche, 1b
Jason Bay, lf
Xavier Nady, rf
Jose Bautista, cf
Ronny Paulino, c
The rest of the starting rotation: Ian Snell, Paul Maholm, Matt Morris, Zach Duke
Bench: Doug Mientkiewicz, Chris Gomez, Ryan Doumit, Luis Rivas, Kevin Thompson
Bullpen: Matt Capps, x-John Grabow, x-Damaso Marte, x-Sean Burnett, Byung-Hyun Kim, Franquelis Osoria, Evan Meek
The Rivas-Josh Wilson decision may be the toughest to make. Wilson is out of minor league options, so the Pirates likely will lose him through waivers if they try to send him to Triple-A. Rivas’ career has been on a downward spiral the past few years, but he’s wowed management with his glovework and is getting on base like crazy.
Doumit would be the backup catcher, but not in the same invisible way that Humberto Cota was the backup. Expect Doumit to get 70 or more starts behind the plate
First player to get traded? Nady. He’ll be the first, but not the last.