FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Forty-three days after Clint Hurdle conducted his first Spring Training workout as the club's new manager, the Pirates are ready to head north. But they'll do so with the 25-man roster still in a bit of flux.
Technically, 31 players remain in Major League camp, though five are essentially out of the mix for an Opening Day roster spot. Chris Snyder (back soreness), Jose Ascanio and Scott Olsen are expected to be officially placed on the disabled list before rosters have to be set at 11 p.m. ET on Thursday. Righty Brad Lincoln (right forearm bruise) will start either in Triple-A Indianapolis or extended Spring Training. And Joe Beimel (left elbow tightness) will not be added to the 40-man roster until he pitches enough innings in extended Spring Training.
That means the club has 26 players left to fill 25 spots.
The final roster moves will affect the bullpen. Once the Pirates add Jose Veras, who came to camp under a Minor League contract, to the 40-man roster, the club will have five of their seven relievers set. Joining Veras will be Joel Hanrahan, Evan Meek, Chris Resop and Jeff Karstens.
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Three more relievers -- Garrett Olson, Chris Leroux and Mike Crotta -- will travel with the team to Philadelphia, though just two of them will be assured of having Opening Day roster spots.
The only way in which all three of those bullpen arms continue with the team to Chicago is if James McDonald has to begin the year on the disabled list. McDonald, who is working his way back after missing time with left-side soreness, should know if he is able to make his first regular season start after he throws again on Thursday.
If McDonald is unable to go, Karstens will likely slide into the rotation. That would open up the extra bullpen spot.
Assuming the Pirates don't make any last-minute waiver claim or trade, the club has solidified its five-man bench. Steve Pearce, Josh Rodriguez and John Bowker will claim the last three spots. With Snyder likely to start the year on the disabled list, both Ryan Doumit and Jason Jaramillo will start the year on the big league club.