Olsen ready to make run at fifth-starter job

Olsen ready to make run at fifth-starter job

Olsen ready to make run at fifth-starter job
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Another candidate is about to enter the competition for the fifth spot in Pittsburgh's rotation, as Scott Olsen is ready to make his spring debut on Monday.

Olsen will pitch one inning in the Pirates' road game, which will be broadcast live on MLB.TV, against Baltimore. The appearance will come 18 days before Opening Day, leaving Olsen little time to log the number of innings that starters typically get in a full Spring Training schedule.

Regardless, the Pirates are not counting Olsen out of the race for the rotation. There is still a scenario in which the left-hander could throw enough pitches to be deemed ready to start by the first week of the regular season.

"It's a challenge, but provided Scott continues to feel good, provided he continues to make strides, there is enough time," general manager Neal Huntington said. "There's not a lot of room for a setback or margin for error, but he has continued to progress as we go forward. If he's not ready, that's a decision we'll make at the end of Spring Training -- what happens at that point in time."

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Olsen is behind schedule because of a mild hamstring strain that cost him time early in camp. After giving the hamstring time to rest, Olsen spent about two weeks throwing bullpen sessions and batting practice to get himself ready for game action.

"I've felt good through the build-up process," Olsen said. "I'm looking forward to tomorrow to get some actual work against batters."

Asked if he thought he'd get enough work in to feel comfortable starting the first week in April, Olsen hesitated to make any guarantees.

"I don't know," said Olsen, who has enough time to make four appearances if he pitches every fifth day. "It's close. I guess I will figure it out in the next few days. I just really don't know. I'm just really excited to go out there [Monday] and do something in a game."

Olsen isn't the only pitcher slated to make a Grapefruit League debut on Monday. Joe Beimel, a non-roster invitee to camp, will as well.

Beimel, who is expected to be the Pirates' primary left-hander in the bullpen this season, had his progression delayed earlier this month because of left elbow tightness. Assuming Beimel doesn't incur any more setbacks, he will have ample time to get ready for the season.

"I'm anxious for each of them to get out and compete," manager Clint Hurdle said. "[I'm] very excited, and hopefully neither one of them is too amped up."

If Olsen is not able to sufficiently build up his arm, the Pirates will consider having Olsen open the season in the bullpen. It's a role that Olsen isn't necessarily fond of, but one that might be dictated by any number of circumstances.

"I don't really have much of a choice," Olsen said, when asked if he'd accept a relief role. "I'm open for whatever."