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Pirates Add Chris Owings to Roster; Option Mark Mathias

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The Pittsburgh Pirates made a change in the infield on Monday prior to their game with the Colorado Rockies. They also made an announcement regarding tomorrow’s starting pitcher.

Infielder Chris Owings had been added to the 40-man roster and called up from Triple-A Indianapolis. He missed some brief time this year due to a minor injury, limiting him to 13 games so far. He’s hitting .278/.360/.523 over 50 plate appearances. Owings has played four positions for Indianapolis, though nine of his starts were at shortstop.

Owings has played parts of ten seasons in the majors. He’s a career .239/.287/.366 hitter in 710 games. He really struggled at the plate in a brief time with the Baltimore Orioles in 2022, hitting .107/.254/.143 in 26 games. He has been in the majors every year since 2013, but he has played just 130 games total over the last four seasons.

Mark Mathias was sent down to make room for Owings on the active roster. They already had an open spot on the 40-man roster, so there was no need to make an extra move.

Mathias hit .275/.370/.325 in 15 games for the Pirates, so it’s doubtful they will see an upgrade on offense with this move, though a downgrade is very possible in this trade-off. Owings is the better defensive player, plus he can handle shortstop as well as anyone the Pirates have at the spot now. If you watched the team over the weekend, you know that defense was one of the many things that went wrong.

The Pirates also announce that Luis Ortiz has been added to the Taxi Squad. He will be the starting pitcher for the Pirates tomorrow in place on Vince Velasquez.

It will be interesting to see if Ortiz sticks around. The Pirates have off-days on Thursday and next Monday, so they only need the fifth starter spot once during that time. Velasquez is supposed to be a short-term injury according to General Manager Ben Cherington.

Except for a few batter stretch in his next to last start, Ortiz has put things together in his last two outings. He had high pitch counts in his first three games, followed by back-to-back starts in which he record just three strikeouts total. The last two outings were a combo of efficiency, strikeouts and results. Overall he has a 2.23 ERA, an 0.96 WHIP and 29 strikeouts in 32.1 innings.

More on Ortiz tomorrow when the roster move becomes official.

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John Dreker
John Dreker
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball. When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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