ST. LOUIS -- In streamlining the Pirates' 25-man roster for the National League Division Series, manager Clint Hurdle apparently faced only one thorny decision.
With starting pitchers A.J. Burnett and Charlie Morton having to be added, two position players had to go from the 25-man roster that was used Tuesday night for the NL Wild Card Game.
Third catcher Tony Sanchez was an easy choice for Hurdle, who cited John Buck's experience, but noted even he "isn't going to play much," with starter Russell Martin strapped in for the duration.
The left-handed bat for the bench was more of an issue. Travis Snider has three pinch-hit homers and seven RBIs in a pinch. Ultimately, Hurdle and staff went with Garrett Jones, who was only 4-for-29 (.138) as a pinch-hitter, but offers the flexibility of being able to play two positions, the outfield in addition to first base.
Hurdle tabbed Jose Tabata as the other reserve outfielder on the 25-man roster, the likely first man off his bench, and cited the pinch-hitting success of another righty hitter, Josh Harrison, whose eight pinch-hits included four for extra bases, two of them home runs.
The versatile Harrison could also be critical for double-switches involving infielders.
"You have to prepare for five games," Hurdle stressed. "We'd be hard-pressed to replace [third baseman Pedro Alvarez] ... if Harrison isn't involved. You have [Jordy] Mercer, but [if he is needed at third] ... you don't have an opportunity to move [starting shortstop Clint Barmes].
"[There are a] lot of things to look at. [It was] not an easy decision by any means. But at the end of the day, we feel we're best suited to take on this five-game series with Harrison and Jones in play."
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