The Pirates' 25-man roster: March 2013 build

USA TODAY Sports

Starting position players

C Russell Martin
1B Garrett Jones
2B Neil Walker
SS Clint Barmes
3B Pedro Alvarez
LF Starling Marte
CF Andrew McCutchen
RF Travis Snider

Jose Tabata has had a better spring than Snider so far, but the Pirates have said Snider will get the first real shot at playing time in right field, and I think that makes some sense. There will be plenty of at bats for Tabata against lefties, and he can also back up Marte in left. Gaby Sanchez, obviously, will platoon with Jones at first base.

Bench

C Michael McKenry
1B Gaby Sanchez
Whatever Josh Harrison
Whatever Brandon Inge
OF Jose Tabata

The only real drama here is in the two "whatever" spots. The Pirates always seem to want two backup infielders, and this time, they'll choose between Harrison, Inge, Jordy Mercer, Ivan DeJesus and Chase D'Arnaud. I'm pretty sure D'Arnaud is the low man on the totem pole, but beyond that, I'm not sure who the Pirates will choose. If it were me, Mercer would be first on the list, and I'd probably just take one. That said, the Bucs' choices for two utility infielder spots aren't matters of great importance. And I think you can at least make cases for Harrison and Inge, who I think are probably the two frontrunners. We gave Harrison a lot of flak last year for being ... I think I've used the word "terrible." But he consistently hit for high averages in the minors, and at 25, he certainly could still take a modest step forward. And Inge at least has a good glove at third.

Rotation

A.J. Burnett
Wandy Rodriguez
James McDonald
Jeff Karstens
Jeff Locke

Although he's been out for several weeks now, we haven't heard any indication that Karstens' injury is serious, and he's scheduled to pitch in a minor-league game tomorrow. Still, it's an open question whether he'll be ready for the start of the season. If he's not, Kyle McPherson will likely take his place, then head back to Indianapolis when he's ready. I'm sure the Pirates would prefer for McPherson to get more time in Triple A before carving out a full-time rotation job for him.

Bullpen

Jason Grilli
Mark Melancon
Tony Watson
Jared Hughes
Bryan Morris
Chris Leroux
Justin Wilson

The first five above are fairly certain to get jobs (Morris is out of options), but the other two spots are still open, and there are a number of variables still in play. It's unclear what the Pirates think of Wilson, and it wouldn't be ridiculous for them to send him back to Indianapolis to continue working on starting, even though I think he'll likely be a reliever in the long term. Kris Johnson, Brooks Brown and Mike Zagurski have all had good springs so far, but it's hard to take any of them too seriously. If the Bucs don't take Wilson, then Zagurski, who's a lefty with major-league experience, might make sense. Ryan Reid might be another option. For now, I'm going with Wilson and with Chris Leroux, who's out of options.

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