Non-roster invitees Sanchez, Inge make Bucs club
Left-hander earns No. 4 starter spot in rotation, infielder likely to start season on DL
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Neal Huntington often says, as the general manager of any Major League Baseball team with limited resources might, that the Pirates' success greatly depends on hitting big on small risks.
The Bucs hope to have done just that with left-hander Jonathan Sanchez -- a veteran with a considerable history, but poor recent track record, who came to camp as a long shot and left with a spot in Pittsburgh's starting rotation.
Sanchez was called into manager Clint Hurdle's office early Tuesday morning and heard the words -- "Congratulations. You're on the team." -- he had worked for since early February.
"I came here and all I did is work hard and do my best," said the 30-year-old native of Puerto Rico. "You've gotta have faith."
The Pirates also made a commitment to Brandon Inge, another veteran who was invited to camp on a Minor League contract. Inge is likely to open the season on the disabled list as he continues to recover from a sore right shoulder blade, where he was hit by a pitch on March 14.
For the moment, "commitment" is the operative word, since neither was placed immediately on the 40-man roster -- moves that do not have to be made until the roster must be submitted prior to the season's first game, scheduled for Sunday at 8:05 p.m. ET, when Houston plays Texas.
Sanchez's Major League contract is for $1,375,000. Inge's deal calls for $1 million.
Sanchez started the spring living up to his reputation for having control issues, issuing eight walks in his first 5 1/3 innings, allowing eight hits and seven runs. He walked only one and gave up only three hits in his past two starts, however, firing eight shutout innings. Sanchez went 13-9 with a 3.07 ERA for the World Series champion Giants in 2010 -- a year after he threw a no-hitter -- but went a combined 1-9 with a 8.07 ERA in 15 starts last season between Colorado and Kansas City.
He will open the season as the Pirates' No. 4 starter, behind A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez and James McDonald, putting him in line to make his first start on April 7 in Los Angeles against the Dodgers.
Inge went 6-for-37 in 13 Grapefruit League games, appearing at both third and first base, although he was limited due to shoulder issues -- first from completing rehab for a September surgery, then for taking a pitch off his shoulder blade. He has been shut down for now to let his shoulder blade heal.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.