BRADENTON, Fla. -- Right-hander Bryan Morris was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis on Friday morning by the Pirates, who also reassigned to Minor League camp infielders Ivan De Jesus Jr. and Jared Goedert.
The moves left 37 players in the Bucs' camp, including an injured quartet not actively participating in preseason action.
De Jesus was one of four players acquired from Boston in the deal featuring former Pirates All-Star closer Joel Hanrahan, and he had a productive spring, batting .406 in 21 Grapefruit League games.
De Jesus' exploits in camp followed his batting title in the Puerto Rico Winter League, so he left with a growing list of credits.
The 25-year-old's exit prompt could not have been more obvious: The original lineup for Friday's game against Tampa Bay had him playing at shortstop, but that start instead went to newcomer John McDonald.
"He did a lot of good things to open some eyes," general manager Neal Huntington said of De Jesus. "As we told him, we got one of the better defensive infielders in the game to be a backup for us, and that impacted him."
De Jesus had been in camp on a non-roster invitation, as was Goedert, 27, who was signed as a Minor League free agent out of the Cleveland organization.
Morris, who is ranked as the Pirates' No. 14 overall prospect, was considered a top candidate to land a relief job, but despite a win and a save this spring, he dealt with inconsistency. He posted a 5.14 ERA in seven appearances.
The 25-year-old's main drawback, however, was having recently been given a fourth option, making him eligible for the Pirates to farm him out without fear of losing him to another team on a waiver claim.
"Yeah, options sometimes do come into play," Huntington conceded. "In Bryan's case, it allows him to get down and refine all his pitches, because when he does, he'll be a very good Major League pitcher for a long time. There's very little doubt he's going to help us at some point this season."
"I'm not far away," said Morris, who would not use the abundance of hurlers in camp, which limited his innings, as an excuse for his erratic pitching. "I have to go down there and put myself in a good position to get back up here with more time on the mound.
"When I did get opportunities, I wasn't as sharp as I should've been, and that's part of the game. My body just wasn't right with my mechanics. I hope I can get back to what I need to be doing."
The 37 players in camp include Chase d'Arnaud, who was placed on the 60-day disabled list following surgery Monday on his left thumb, and rehabbing pitchers Charlie Morton, Jose Contreras and Francisco Liriano.
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.Less