Pirates designate Penn for assignment
Right-hander's early struggles force club to make move
SAN FRANCISCO -- Optimistic that reliever Hayden Penn could prove to be a waiver-wire steal, the Pirates were forced to come to the reality that the right-hander just wasn't ready to be a part of the club's bullpen.Penn, who the Pirates claimed off waivers during the final week of Spring Training, was designated for assignment on Monday. His roster spot was needed for lefty Brian Burres, who was called up to make an emergency start on Monday night, but Penn had done nothing to solidify his place in the bullpen. He made three outings during the first week of the season and fared well in just one of them. Overall, Penn allowed eight earned runs on eight hits and three walks in 2 1/3 innings. That included a disastrous outing on Sunday in which Penn allowed four earned runs on a hit and three walks while recording just one out. Pirates management raved about Penn's potential. So why wasn't that potential matched with effectiveness and results? "I think this kid was really rushed," manager John Russell said. "I don't think he really had a lot of opportunity to lock in his mechanics to where he felt very comfortable each time he went out. If he can simplify his delivery and add a third pitch, I think it will really help him. He was trying to impress so much and show us why he needed to be here that it took away from him just going out and pitching." Penn made his Major League debut when he was just 20 years old after less than three seasons in the Minors. The club now has 10 days to trade, release or waive Penn, who is out of options. He would have to clear waivers in order for the Pirates to outright him to Triple-A. "We would love to keep this guy because we think he can help us in the future," Russell said. "Hopefully we'll get to spend some time with him, because he does have a great arm."
Hanrahan comes off disabled list
SAN FRANCISCO -- As expected, right-handed reliever Joel Hanrahan rejoined the Pirates prior to Monday's series opener against the Giants.Hanrahan, who missed most of February due to a right elbow strain, was reinstated off the disabled list after making two successful Minor League rehab appearances with Class A Bradenton. In two innings -- one on Thursday and the other on Saturday -- Hanrahan struck out three and didn't allow anyone to reach base. More importantly, though, he continued to pitch without any discomfort in his arm. "We weren't so much worried about the results, but just that he'd be bouncing back healthy," manager John Russell said. "He feels great. It's going to give us another very good arm in the back end of the bullpen. I liked the makeup of our bullpen before Joel got here, and now I think it has gotten even stronger." Because of the injury and the need to backdate his DL stint, Hanrahan was never able to face Major League hitters this spring. All of his Spring Training appearances came in Minor League camp, meaning that Hanrahan's first appearance out of the Pirates' bullpen will mark the first time he has thrown to big league hitters since last season. Hanrahan, who posted a 1.72 ERA in 31 1/3 innings for the Pirates in 2009, is expected to join right-hander Brendan Donnelly and lefty Javier Lopez as Russell's primary setup arms.
Righty McCutchen sent to Indianapolis
SAN FRANCISCO -- In order to clear a space on the 25-man roster for Joel Hanrahan, the Pirates optioned right-hander Daniel McCutchen to Triple-A Indianapolis on Monday. The move came one day after McCutchen was rocked in his first start of the season, though he was expected to be the odd man out regardless of how that outing went.For weeks, the Pirates have planned on going with four starters the second and third times through the rotation because of the way the team's scheduled off-days fell. That means that after McCutchen's start on Sunday, a fifth starter is not expected to be needed until April 24. Rather than keeping McCutchen idle or pitching out of the bullpen in Pittsburgh, the Pirates prefer to keep the right-hander on a normal starting schedule at Triple-A. He will be among the pitchers considered for the rotation's fifth spot later in the month. The only thing that could throw a wrench in these plans is if starter Ross Ohlendorf is unable to make his scheduled start on Saturday. Ohlendorf was scratched on Monday due to back spasms, and if his condition doesn't improve, McCutchen would be the one to fill in for Ohlendorf in Pittsburgh next weekend. Though he is no longer on the 25-man roster, McCutchen remained with the big league club in San Francisco.
Triple-A Indianapolis starter Kevin Hart has been suspended three games for throwing behind Columbus (Ohio) catcher Carlos Santana in the fourth inning of his start on Thursday. The suspension began on Sunday, meaning that Hart will miss his scheduled start on Tuesday. He is now expected to pitch on Wednesday against Louisville. ... With two hits, including a two-run homer, on Monday night, first baseman Steve Pearce is now 8-for-19 with four RBIs to open the Triple-A season. Teammate Pedro Alvarez has four hits in his first 20 at-bats. Three of those four hits have been homers, and Alvarez has driven in seven. ... With Andrew McCutchen's first-inning stolen base on Monday, the Pirates have now been successful in each of their first eight stolen-base attempts this season.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.