BRADENTON, Fla. -- If the Pirates are to make a move in the nearly six weeks remaining before the March 31 Opening Day, and many consider that an inevitability to alleviate some offensive concerns, it will almost certainly involve relief pitching from their side.
The Bucs are simply loaded with live bullpen arms that throw hard and harder, a tremendous asset in today's baseball. In fact, manager Clint Hurdle maintains there are enough top-notch relievers in camp to outfit two Major League bullpens.
"We were fortunate that we got through the bulk of last season with just about the same bullpen," Hurdle said, "and we have other guys in play here who all have the skill set to put another very good bullpen together."
The Bucs retain the pitchers who accounted for 589 of the team's 627 relief appearances in 2013, an extremely rare development, including all the big teeth in The Shark Tank.
Competing for jobs and attention are guys with big league resumes such as Cody Eppley, Dan Schlereth and their own Jared Hughes. Then there are prospects knocking on the door like Casey Sadler and Zack Thornton. And we haven't even mentioned guys who have an inside track, because they no longer have options (Bryan Morris and Vin Mazzaro, also included as two of the '13 big teeth, Stolmy Pimentel and Jeanmar Gomez).
"We understand all the different options," Hurdle said. "We're not going to evaluate daily. They'll have [exhibition] outings we'll have to kick to the curb, because of windy conditions or other factors. Truth be told, I want them all to pitch well and complicate things for us."
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.