Pitching upgrades in progress


LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Here are some quick-and -irty snippets from GM Neal Huntington’s afternoon confab with the media on Day 2 of the Winter Meetings:

»»» Huntington didn’t confirm the deals with pitchers Kevin Correia and Scott Olsen — that will happen over the next few days, once their physicals are completed — but he did talk in general terms about what the Pirates wanted to acquire for their rotation: “Every club would love power arms who can eat innings. But those guys cost a lot of money and there are very few of them out there. At this point, we’d like to find some stability in the rotation and get a guy who’s going to take the ball every fifth day. You never know with pitchers. We’d like to take a guy who some track record. Maybe there’s a guy out there with some upside who’s coming back from an injury in the past couple of years. Or maybe we add two stabilizers. We need to eat some innings and lighten the load on our bullpen. We need to get deeper into games. We need to give ourselves some options. In the draft, we definitely have a prototype for what we want. With the free market and trades, you make the best of what’s available.

»»» Now, the focus turns to the bullpen: “We’re exploring the free agent and trade markets. We’re exploring the ‘4-A’ free-agent market. We’ve got a lot of internal options, as well. If we add more starters than we need, maybe it pushes a (swing) guy to the bullpen. Maybe it pushes some of our internal options to come into camp in better shape and more ready to go. Too many options is never a bad thing. We love power and strikeouts. But, short of that, a variety of looks and stuff can give a manager options. We’d like a deep bullpen that gives Clint (Hurdle) some options.

»»» Huntington indicated the hunt for an upgrade at shortstop continues, but it might not be culminated until after the Winter Meetings: “We feel like we’ve got some options — maybe not out of the Winter Meetings, but we’ve laid some groundwork. We can improve our position player group overall. Maybe that means adding a bat. Maybe it’s something that improves the overall club, not just the defensive options.”

»»» Don’t expect to see free-agent reliever Chan Ho Park back with the Pirates. “We’re leaving the door open. There hasn’t been a ton of dialogue. Chan Ho is exploring his options. Things are not imminent at all.”

»»» Steve Pearce, Kevin Hart, Jose Ascanio and Jeff Clement are making progress in their respective injury rehabs and all are expected to be ready for spring training.

»»» The Pirates would like to return right-hander Sean Gallagher to a starting role. But he doesn’t figure to crack the rotation at the start of the year and could be a reliever again if he performs well in the spring.

»»» Hart, on the mend from shoulder surgery, is now a reliever. “It’d be awfully tough to stretch him back out and expect him to eat 200 innings,” Huntington said. “Maybe (he could start) somewhere down the road again, but his quickest path back (to the majors) is as a reliever.”