Pimentel worthy candidate for 'pen, rotation

Pimentel worthy candidate for 'pen, rotation

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Right-hander Stolmy Pimentel said he's not going to worry about whether he'll spend this spring preparing to be a starter or reliever, but he's going to be given every opportunity to crack the Bucs' rotation.

Manager Clint Hurdle said on Sunday that Pimentel will be one of a "handful" of pitchers to work their way up to three innings, or 50 pitches, per outing. From there, the Pirates will decide which arms to stretch out even further -- to four innings and beyond -- or back down.

"He's definitely in that mix to continue to stretch out as long as we have innings available," Hurdle said.

Pimentel allowed just one hit and struck out Phillies shortstop Freddy Galvis on Sunday, picking up the win in Pittsburgh's 4-1 victory at Bright House Field. Pimentel said he was primarily working on his fastball command and attacking the strike zone early in the count while trying to mix in all his pitches.

"I'm liking the growth. We like the young man and the ability to listen and learn and the way he competes," Hurdle said. "A positive outing for him today. Not his sharpest stuff, [but he] made pitches and stayed aggressive."

The 24-year-old righty, who's out of Minor League options, posted a 1.93 ERA in five appearances for the Pirates last season. Pimentel would seem to be a longshot to make the Opening Day rotation if everyone stays healthy, but he could find a way to contribute out of the bullpen.

"I just want to get ready, whether it's to start or [be] a reliever, I just want to help the team and do my job every time I get the ball," Pimentel said. "I can't control if I'm going to be a starter or reliever."

Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.