BRADENTON, Fla.—Wednesday was one of those days at Pirates’ spring training that makes you not only wonder if they have any idea of what’s going on but if they are even telling the truth.
Left-handed reliever Joe Beimel told a group of reporters early in the morning that he did not undergo a scheduled MRI on his left elbow Tuesday because his arm fell asleep while in the tube. Beimel then took part in team fielding drills later in the morning.
Late in the afternoon, the Pirates issued a press release saying that the result of the MRI showed no acute injury and that Beimel’s activity level would be dictated by his symptoms.
Following the issue of the press release, Pirates media relations director Jim Trdinich then informed the four beat writers who cover the team on a daily basis that they were no longer allowed to ask manager Clint Hurdle any questions regarding injuries. This comes from an organization that already makes the doctors and training staff off limits to the media.
Anyhow, it appears there are questions surrounding the pitcher who the Pirates were counting on to be their primary—and perhaps only—left-handed reliever this season. Beimel has yet to pitch in a game since the Grapefruit League season started last Friday and there is no timetable for his debut.
Beimel signed a minor-league contract in January but that was considered just a formality so the Pirates did not immediately have to remove a player from their 40-man roster. The former Duquesne University star is scheduled to make $1 million if he is on the opening day roster.
Compounding matters is the fact that the Pirates have zero solid lefty relief options beyond Beimel. They have approached Scott Olsen, who was signed as a free agent in the offseason, about switching to relief. That angered the former Marlins and Nationals starter as he signed with the Pirates with the understanding that he would be given a full opportunity to win a spot in the rotation.
Daniel Moskos, Aaron Thompson and Tony Watson are all lefty relievers on the 40-man roster but none are considered to have much of a chance of making the team. The Pirates were encouraged by Moskos saving 21 games at Class AA Altoona last season but discouraged by him going 0-5 with a 10.38 ERA in 19 games following a promotion to Class AAA Indianapolis.
Non-roster options include Brian Burres and Justin Thomas. Burress has been primarily a starter in his career and Thomas had a 6.23 ERA in 12 appearances with the Pirates last season.