BRADENTON, Fla. — Having two off days among the first five days of the season gives the Pirates the luxury of not needing a fifth starter until April 14. Not coincidentally, that’s the day when righty Charlie Morton is expected to come off the disabled list and make his season debut. The Pirates opted to take a cautious approach with Morton, who’s recovering from hip surgery, and put him on the DL.
“We learned some lessons from James McDonald a year ago,” GM Neal Huntington said. Last year, McDonald rushed back from an oblique injury and struggled in the first six weeks of the season.
Morton will pitch a simulated game Wednesday at Pirate City, fly to Pittsburgh for Opening Day, then pitch for Triple-A Indianapolis on April 9 in Columbus, Ohio. “He’s a little bit disappointed,” Huntington said. “But we want to make sure we make the right decision for him and for us long term.”
»»» Jake Fox, Nick Evans, Ryota Igarashi and Eric Fryer were reassigned to minor league camp. “NIck had a tough camp with the bat,” Huntington said. “When we signed him we felt he would have a great chance to make our club because he can bounce around the field and swing the bat well. In Jake’s case, it was similar. Jake had a better camp with the bat. But we have some guys we felt were more versatile, a little better defensively.”
»»» The past few days have been rough for former Pirates. Pitchers Ian Snell, Zach Duke, John Grabow and John Van Benschoten all are looking for work. Also, infielder Steve Pearce was cut by the Twins.
Spring game No. 25: Twins v. Pirates, 1:05 p.m., Bradenton, Fla.
Twins (15-12): 1. Ben Revere cf, 2. Daniel Santana 2b, 3. Danny Valencia dh, 4. Chris Parmelee 1b, 5. Luke Hughes 3b, 6. Angel Morales rf, 7. Brian Dinkelman lf, 8. Brian Dozier ss, Drew Butera c. Matt Maloney lhp
Pirates (8-16): 1. Alex Presley lf, 2. Josh Harrison lf, 3. Jose Tabata rf, 4. Casey McGehee 1b, 5. Neil Walker 2b, 6. Nate McLouth cf, 7. Pedro Alvarez 3b, 8. Michael McKenry c, 9. James McDonald rhp
Also scheduled to pitch: Daniel McCutchen