SARASOTA, Fla. -- Technically, the Pirates still have five bullpen spots up for grabs with only a week remaining before Opening Day rosters must be set. At least, that is what the team continues to say publicly.
Clint Hurdle confirmed on Thursday that there are some other relievers who are "definitively in," but the Pittsburgh manager would not go any further and list names. That would come, he said, after he has told the individuals that they are on the roster.
Joel Hanrahan and Evan Meek already have their roles solidified. Hanrahan will close, and Meek will serve as the primary set-up man. That is all that is officially known.
Right-handers Chris Resop, Jose Veras and Jeff Karstens are also believed to be locks to go to Chicago. Resop would be another late-inning option for Hurdle, while Karstens would be available to pitch in long relief. Veras would have to be added to the Pirates' 40-man roster.
Including these five pitchers in the bullpen would leave two openings. Joe Beimel is expected to take one of them, though he might not be ready to begin the season with the team after being slowed by arm injuries. If the Pirates want to take another lefty, the club could carry Garrett Olson or Brian Burres, who could also be called upon to start the season in the rotation if James McDonald is not ready.
If the Pirates do not keep two left-handers in the bullpen, there are five other right-handed relievers - Mike Crotta, Sean Gallagher, Chris Leroux, Daniel McCutchen and Tyler Yates - who remain in camp. All but Gallagher and Yates are already on the 40-man roster.