The Pirates optioned both Josh Harrison and Pedro Ciriaco to AAA Indianapolis with the signing of RHP Jason Grilli from the Phillies AAA farm club. Grilli struggled last season with control issues between Colorado and Texas, but still retained his ability to miss some bats averaging over a strikeout per inning. Ronny Cedeno and Steve Pearce were activated from the DL with Cedeno immediately being reinserted to the starting lineup.
I thought it was possible that the team may elect to extend their bullpen by a player and shorten their bench. They have enough position players right now who can play multiple positions and Ciriaco was basically wasting a roster spot anyway. A move in this regard might make sense in that the Pirates need to preserve the starters’ arms over the course of a long season if they remain in a pennant race. They might later look at adding a 6th starter, such as calling up Brad Lincoln. Grilli had a 1.93 ERA in 28 appearances in the minors this season. He may provide the necessary depth the Pirates need at the back of the pen setting up Joel Hanrahan. It is a no-risk attempt at it. To make room on the 40 man roster, Evan Meek was moved to the 60 day DL.
Cedeno will immediately take back over as starting shortstop with Chase d’Arnaud expected to hold down the fort at hot corner until another move is made. I am unsure if I would have chosen Chase over Harrison since Harrison can flat out hit, but Chase’s speed is very intriguing at the top of the order. Their fielding is comparable with each other and with Pedro Alvarez who is hitting .340 in Indianapolis with a .424 OBA. He is averaging a strikeout per 3.93 plate appearances there, compared to his one per 3.29 in Pittsburgh this season. I have to assume his return is imminent and that he will replace Chase leaving Brandon Wood to become the backup at both SS and 3B.
Steve Pearce could make a strong push to become the starting 1B and get playing time at 3B in the short term. The team stresses that Alvarez still needs to work on his swing concentrating on not trying to pull everything and go to the opposite field more. It seems that was the reasons they gave up on Jose Bautista too. They will not give up on Alvarez that soon, but I am not sure how long they can wait to call him up.