Crotta edges out Leroux for bullpen spot

Crotta edges out Leroux for bullpen spot

Crotta edges out Leroux for bullpen spot
PHILADELPHIA -- Mike Crotta found himself in a very unfamiliar position on Wednesday afternoon.

A day earlier, the 26-year-old right-handed reliever had been interviewed about the Pirates' decision on their final two bullpen spots, for which they had three choices in Crotta, lefty Garrett Olson -- acquired through waivers from Seattle on March 18 -- and right-hander Chris Leroux.

So when Crotta was approached again one day later, initially he was surprised. Then, after he found out via the media he had all but made the 25-man roster -- barring any unforeseen moves by the Pirates -- it took a minute to sink in.

"It did," Crotta said. "No, I didn't know yet."

Opening Day results: March 31 | April 1
Complete coverage
Sign up for MLB.TV | Get At Bat 11
Day begins in grand style | Fan's guide
Opening Day videos

The odd man out in the equation was Leroux, who appeared dejected upon leaving manager Clint Hurdle's office. But in this situation, the reality is Leroux will most likely make an appearance with the big club at some point this year.

Both young right-handers came equipped with a power sinker, and both needed to work on their consistency -- which in the end made a difference, as Crotta has developed just a little more quickly since the first day of Spring Training.

"He throws a power sinker that hits between 93 mph and 95," pitching coach Ray Searage said. "When it's down in the zone, it's very effective. It's when it gets up and flattens out that there is trouble. But he's pitched well enough in Spring Training to take a longer look at.

"You see, what happens when he gets it down, everyone hits it on the ground. He's handled himself well -- with composure. And obviously, since he's young, he'll have his ups and downs. But so far, he's handled it very well."

For Leroux, the key will be the exact same thing.

"He has a nasty fastball that hits 95," Searage said. "[Leroux] is young and has great stuff. All he needs to work on is his consistency, and then he can really help us."