It appears outfielder Matt Joyce, who recently signed to a minor-league deal, might have a good shot at making the Pirates out of camp. Joyce’s locker is in the same room as players already on the 40-man roster, despite the fact that he himself is a non-roster invitee, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review tweets. Joyce himself, meanwhile, says that Pirates manager Clint Hurdle says the Bucs “see me as kind of like the fourth outfielder,” as MLB.com’s Adam Berry notes (via Twitter). Joyce does note that he’ll have to prove himself in camp. The Bucs’ three starting outfield spots are set with Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen and Gregory Polanco, but there isn’t much depth behind them, with Jason Rogers, Jake Goebbert and Sean Rodriguez previously looking like they had the clearest shots at any spare playing time in the outfield. Rogers and Goebbert can both be optioned, however, and Rodriguez can play other positions. Here’s more on the Bucs.
- Former Pirates pitching guru Jim Benedict could be the Marlins’ most important offseason acquisition, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. The Pirates had already lost another executive, Marc DelPiano, to the Marlins when the Fish came calling for Benedict, so the two teams worked out a related deal in which Miami sent pitching prospect Trevor Williams to Pittsburgh as compensation. “The challenge becomes when that same organization continues to come back for people,” says Bucs GM Neal Huntington. “It becomes harder to lose somebody that has insight on your organization and who the talented people are in your organization. We do need to protect ourselves from being raided by a single organization or exploited by a single organization.” Huntington adds that while the organization will miss Benedict, the team retains “parts of what allowed him to be successful” — including, presumably, well-regarded big-league pitching coach Ray Searage.
- Bucs starter Gerrit Cole is behind schedule in Spring Training due to a right rib inflammation, Biertempfel writes. The injury took place in mid-January. Obviously, the absence of their ace from an already dubious rotation would be a significant blow to the Pirates. The condition does not appear serious, however, as Cole is already throwing from flat ground and is expected to soon begin throwing from a mound. “It’s just a modified throwing program at this point,” he says. “I’m not too far behind everybody else, but I feel good.”