Van Benschoten optioned to Triple-A

Van Benschoten optioned to Triple-A

SARASOTA, Fla. -- John Van Benschoten became the latest pitcher to be cut from the Pirates' Major League camp, getting the news on Tuesday morning that he had been optioned to Triple-A.

Van Benschoten arrived at Spring Training well aware that his chances of making the Opening Day roster were slim. The Pirates were not seriously interested in converting Van Benschoten into a reliever, and the rotation spots were already filled.

Now, Van Benschoten will start in Indianapolis' rotation for the second straight season. The hope is that some time in the Minors will allow Van Benschoten to continue to work on some of his control issues. In two Grapefruit League games this spring, Van Benschoten issued six walks and allowed five hits and five earned runs in a combined five innings.

The control issues were reminiscent of the 27-year-old right-hander's tumultuous 2007 season, in which he went 0-7 with a 10.15 ERA in 11 big league games.

"I've just got to go throw strikes and show them that I can be here," Van Benschoten said before leaving the McKechnie Field clubhouse Tuesday morning.

The Pirates are somewhat fortunate that they had the ability to option Van Benschoten to the Minors this season. Under MLB rules, once put on a team's 40-man roster, players have three option years in which the team can send players between the Majors and Minors without the player having to clear waivers.

Van Benschoten, a first-round pick in the 2001 First-Year Player Draft, had already exhausted all three of those years. However, the Pirates petitioned for an extra option year for him over the offseason, and were granted one because he had missed an entire season recovering from right shoulder surgery.

With Van Benschoten now cut, the Pirates have a total of 39 players still in Major League camp, broken down as such: 20 pitchers, four catchers, nine infielders and six outfielders.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.