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Pregame: Olsen out of the mix

BRADENTON, Fla. — Scott Olsen no longer is in the hunt for a rotation spot and also might be nixed for the bullpen. There’s even a chance the left-hander will begin the season on the disabled list.

This morning, GM Neal Huntington said Olsen’s progress was slowed too much by a hamstring injury early in camp. Olsen has a 15.43 ERA in two outings.

“Scott is out of the major league rotation competition and may even be out of the bullpen competition,” Huntington said. “Does that mean he starts the season on the DL? Potentially, in order to get him back to 100 percent.”

Congrats to Charlie Morton for winning the No. 5 starter’s job certainly would seem to be in order. Morton has sparkled this spring, putting up a 1.29 ERA in four outings. However, Huntington stopped short of saying Morton has clinched the spot.

“Charlie’s made a case to have that be the situation,” Huntington said. “We have not sat down as a staff and formalized that. He’s thrown the ball well. He’s attacked the bottom half of the strike zone. He’s let it fly. He’s been aggressive. His pace has been good. The results have been there. It’s been very encouraging. Hopefully, he carries it forward until September.”

»»» Relievers Justin Thomas and Fernando Nieve were reassigned to minor league camp and infielder Garrett Atkins was unconditionally released. In 17 spring training games,

Atkins, 31, hit .129 with 11 strikeouts in 31 at-bats. Three of his four hits went for extra bases (two doubles and one homer). “This gives him an opportunity to land somewhere else,” Huntington said. “He’s working through options. Part of him thinks he still has something to offer. It does sound like he has a continuing interest to play and we’ll do everything we can to help him.”

Thomas, a left-hander, and Nieve, a right-hander, likely will begin the season at Triple-A Indianapolis. The Pirates have 41 players remaining in major league camp.

»»» Lefty Joe Beimel on Sunday took a cortisone shot to relieve pain and inflammation in his elbow. He said Monday he had “zero pain” but added there is no firm timetable for when he’ll resume pitching.

»»» Right-hander James McDonald (discomfort in left side) will throw a bullpen session Wednesday. If all goes well, he might be cleared to resume game action.

»»» Garrett Jones said he “felt a little pop” in his neck/shoulder area Thursday and still is stiff and sore. “It kind of locked up, but I feel better now. It’s nothing serious,” said Jones, who batted in a minor league game Sunday.

»»» The Pirates will hold a closed workout at 3 p.m. March 31 at Wrigley Field as a final preparation for Opening Day.

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