BRADENTON, Fla. -- And then there was one -- the keeper. The Pirates on Thursday morning reassigned four non-roster players to their Minor League camp, all but relief pitcher Juan Cruz, who remained in line to be added to the 25-man roster as well as to manager Clint Hurdle's bullpen. Reassigned were right-hander Ryota Igarashi, who had begun camp in competition with Cruz for a relief role; catchers Eric Fryer and Jake Fox; and first baseman Nick Evans.
With the moves, the Bucs have 30 active players in camp, including 29 roster players. Igarashi started on an even footing with Cruz, but an inability to keep his pitches down gradually eroded his effectiveness. In nine appearances covering 9 1/3 innings, he allowed 15 hits and nine earned runs. Evans (.111) and Fox (.269) both had their moments, but didn't produce consistently. Fryer was getting increased support for possibly wresting the backup catching job from Michael McKenry. But although Fryer batted .318 to McKenry's .217 and was his peer defensively, the staff had to respect the experience McKenry gained last season, when he also established good rapport with a number of the team's pitchers.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.