BRADENTON, Fla. -- The Pirates will be an extra bit cautious with Jose Ascanio this week after the right-hander complained of some tightness in his right elbow on Monday. The discomfort came one day after Ascanio threw his first bullpen session.
The Bucs do not anticipate Ascanio being sidelined very long (his status is day-to-day), and there is little concern that he will fall behind the other pitchers due to the brief absence. Even though Ascanio's arrival in Bradenton was delayed a few days because of visa issues, he is already ahead in his throwing program because he pitched in winter ball through December.
"He can catch up quickly," general manager Neal Huntington said. "As a reliever, this won't set him back at all."
Though Ascanio has been used some as a starter in the past, the club is planning to prepare him for a bullpen role this season. This will give the right-hander a better shot at cracking the Opening Day roster. Ascanio is out of options this year, too, meaning that the club could lose him on waivers if he is not put on the Major League roster before the start of the season.