Pirates Option lefty reliever Moskos to Triple-A

Rosters don’t have to be set until 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, but the Pirates trimmed down theirs to 27 on Tuesday after optioning left-handed reliever Daniel Moskos to Triple-A Indianapolis.

Moskos, 24,allowed one earned run on six hits over 9.0 innings during Grapefruit League action this spring. He walked five and struck out nine over nine appearances.

Moskos, the Pirates first round pick in the 1st round of the 2007 draft, made his Major League debut last season in Pittsburgh. After making eight appearances with Triple-A Indianapolis, where he posted a 1.69 ERA, Moskos was called up on April 30 against the Colorado Rockies and tossed a perfect inning of relief. The 25-year-old lefty went on to make 30 more appearances with the Pirates, where he posted a 2.96 ERA over 24.1 innings.

Over the offseason, Moskos said he focused on consistency and working on improving his breaking ball. And the hard work seemed to pay off this spring, where he posted a 1.00 ERA over his nine appearances.

“You have outings where you feel pretty good, then you have outings where you’re not so good,” Moskos said. “You want to try and have more of the previous. The main thing I worked on this offseason when I went home, was finding my breaking ball. That’s going to be a big pitch for me moving forward. It was a big pitch that was kind of missing at times last year. Times when I struggled I think, the breaking ball was probably the main cause of that. I worked hard on that this offseason and it’s shown strides so far this spring. I’m always going to keep trying to get better and get better with it.”

With the roster currently at 27, Pirates still have a few moves remaining. With right-hander Charlie Morton to start the season on the disabled list, General Manager Neal Huntington said the decision to carry an extra bench player, or an extra arm, is still in discussion. Instead of carrying 12 pitchers, the Pirates could decide to use 11 arms (four starters and seven relievers) and 14 position players to help the club during their tough month of April.

“That is an option,” Huntington said last week in Florida. “That is something we are talking about. The best use of the bench for Clint to win those early games. Eight bullpen guys allows us the protection early as your starters are getting built up, getting into the cold weather. We’re still working through that.”

“We’ve talked about both scenarios,” Manager Clint Hurdle said. “We’ve talked about the difference in personnel. We need to factor in the off days involved and how much the extra pitching you think you’d need or could use, or if the bat would play better. That’s where we are in the discussions right now. Would the extra arm be the benefit, or would the bat be a benefit? It could open up a position for all three of the utility men to make the club, or it could open up an opportunity for another long man to make the club.”

Relievers Juan Cruz, Jason Grilli, Joel Hanrahan, Evan Meek, Chris Resop and Tony Watson (lefty) look to be locks in the ‘pen. Right-handers Jared Hughes and Chris Leroux (who is out of options) remain for the final one or two spots left in the bullpen.

If the club decided to go with the extra arm, one of the final three battling for the utility jobs –Matt Hague, Josh Harrison and Yamaico Navarro– would be optioned to Triple-A.