Juan Nicasio has made the Pirates’ rotation, according to various reporters, including MLB.com’s Adam Berry (on Twitter). That means Nicasio will join Gerrit Cole, Francisco Liriano, Jon Niese and Jeff Locke, and veteran Ryan Vogelsong — who had been competing with Nicasio for the last rotation spot — will head to the bullpen. It’s been an interesting spring for Nicasio, who struggled with control while pitching for the Rockies and Dodgers in recent years but whiffed 24 batters against just five walks in 15 innings of Spring Training action. The Pirates will see if he can join a long line of hurlers who have rejuvenated their careers in Pittsburgh. Here’s more on the Bucs.
- It was previously reported that lefty Cory Luebke’s opt-out was yesterday, but it’s actually today, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets. That means the Bucs will have to decide today whether Luebke has made their bullpen. It appears likely he will after a spring in which the previously injury-ravaged Luebke earned praise for his stuff, including a 94-MPH fastball and hard breaking ball.
- The Pirates appear to be pursuing a new model for their starting pitching reclamation projects, Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. Previously, they looked for pitchers with good fastballs and the ability to get strikeouts, and tried to help them with their command. But Vogelsong and Niese don’t fit that model, Sawchik notes (although it certainly looks like Nicasio does). “Jonathan might be of a different style than pitchers we acquired in the past,” says GM Neal Huntington. “But if you only stick to (one model) especially at the major league level, especially given how the market has evolved, you are really going to limit your options.”
- Stephen J. Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette chronicles the baseball career of Bucs manager Clint Hurdle, which he began as a phenom with the Royals. Hurdle was mostly a bust as a player, and he fought a long battle with alcoholism, but he reemerged on the other side as a manager and is now one of the game’s most respected.