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Bucs will have one less participant in Classic


BRADENTON, Fla. -- And then there were four ... Pirates participants remaining to head to the World Baseball Classic, that is.

The latest player forced to invoke an exit strategy was catcher Ali Solis, who suffered back spasms after catching two innings in his Grapefruit League debut on Saturday against Detroit. Solis had been counted on to be Mexico's starting catcher.

So the Bradenton-to-Phoenix shuttle for Pool D play lost another passenger. Jason Grilli (Italy) and Jameson Taillon (Canada) were still on that flight late Sunday afternoon. Chris Leroux (Canada) will also head to Phoenix -- but not until Wednesday -- while Wandy Rodriguez (Dominican Republic) is set to depart on Monday for Puerto Rico and Pool C competition.

Additionally, Minor League infielder Stefan Welch has already hooked up with Team Australia (he went 1-for-3 in an opening 4-1 loss to Chinese Taipei, homering for the Aussies' lone run).

Previously, Russell Martin (Canada) and Ivan De Jesus (Puerto Rico) had decided against participating in the Classic.

Leroux is scheduled to start against Mexico on Saturday, and delaying his departure until Wednesday will enable him to make one more Grapefruit League appearance to strengthen his bid to earn a spot on the Bucs' staff. For the same reason, he does not plan to stay on Team Canada for any subsequent Classic rounds -- even if it does advance.

"I don't want to be away too long, and hurt my chances of making the team," Leroux said.

Manager Clint Hurdle is comfortable with putting four important pitchers into others' hands. Rodriguez and Grilli are critical '13 pieces, Leroux is a top contender for the staff and Taillon is the organization's No. 2 prospect, behind fellow righty Gerrit Cole.

"There's no hesitance, or any type of anxiety," Hurdle said. "We're absolutely trusting the pitchers we're sending out there. There's constant communication between [Classic countries'] pitching coaches and our pitching coach."

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