According to reports by Tim Williams of PiratesProspects.com and the Toledo Blade, the Pittsburgh Pirates are planning on calling up six players as the team makes its final push towards playoff contention.
The Pirates will call up pitchers Bobby LaFromboise and Radhames Liz, infielder Pedro Florimon, catcher Elias Diaz and outfielders Jaff Decker and Travis Snider from the Indianapolis Indians.
Of the six, only Decker, Diaz and LaFromboise are already on the 40-man roster.
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LaFromboise was called up for two short stints earlier this season and pitched one scoreless inning on May 14 against the Philadelphia Phillies. LaFromboise was called up for the Phillies series because Antonio Bastardo was placed on the paternity list. When discussing the May call-up, manager Clint Hurdle cited the experience and success LaFromboise had as a September call-up last season and more consistency with his delivery. The addition gives the Pirates three left-handed relievers in the bullpen.
Liz broke Spring Training with the Pirates and pitched 17.1 innings in 11 games. Liz was designated as a long reliever and posted a 1-3 record with a 3.63 ERA. He recorded a 4.66 ERA and was designated for assignment May 25 to make room for Charlie Morton, who was activated from the disabled list. Hurdle expressed that the team would love for Liz to go unclaimed by a team but thought the chances of that happening to be unlikely. When that did in fact happened, Liz was stretched out as a starter with Triple-A Indianapolis. To date Liz has started 10 of the 16 games in which he has made an appearance and has a 1.40 ERA over 64.1 innings.
In Sunday’s press conference with the media, general manager Neal Huntington stated any pitcher called up would likely pitch exclusively in middle relief.
Florimon was designated for assignment Aug. 19, a day after recording his first-ever game-winning hit against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Florimon’s bat otherwise was rather cold and he had two hits in 19 at-bats, good for an average of .105. Hurdle, however, was very high on Florimon’s defense, so much so that he discussed the possibility of moving him to the outfield. Florimon has played the position before and the possibility intrigued him, though it never materialized. He most likely would either be a pinch-runner or a late-inning defensive replacement.
Diaz would be making his major league debut if he were to get into a game after being called up. He impressed the Pirates in Spring Training, however the team elected to bring Tony Sanchez with the team to start the season as Chris Stewart was on the disabled list at the time. When Sanchez was sent down, the idea was that both would split time, however it soon after became clear that Diaz was the better option on both sides of the ball. His defense earned praise for Huntington in Spring Training and Sanchez admitted his need for improvement in that area coming into the season. Sanchez has 12 errors on the season. Hurdle compared the two in a press conference last week and spent the majority of his time discussing Diaz.
Huntington stated Sunday that if a catcher was to be called up it would be to be used as an emergency. Seeing that Diaz has no major league experience, this is more of a learning opportunity.
Decker joined the Pirates in the middle of July and was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis to make room for Michael Morse following the trade deadline. Decker had one hit in 13 at-bats, good for a .077 batting average.
Snider rejoined the Pirates Aug. 19 after signing a minor-league contract with the club. He was designated for assignment by the Baltimore Orioles so that new acquisition Junior Lake could join the team. Snider appeared in 69 games for the Orioles and batted .237 with three home runs and 20 RBI. The Pirates traded Snider Feb. 20, and now rejoins the team.
Both players will be left-handed pinch-hit options on the bench filling a void that was left when Travis Ishikawa went on the 15-day disabled list with a back strain.
Huntington mentioned that September call-ups can be difficult because as a general manager he wants to help the team win but at the same time not harm the clubhouse, especially the 25-man roster which has been with the team all season.
These call-ups could be announced as early as Tuesday — the first day allowed by Major League Baseball — as the Pirates begin a three-game series with the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Pirates can always choose to call up other players as need dictates, or when Indianapolis ends its season.
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