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Pirates To Start Bryan Morris And Jeff Locke At Altoona

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BRADENTON FL - FEBRUARY 20:  Pitcher Bryan Morris #64 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photo during photo day at Pirate City on February 20 2011 in Bradenton Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
BRADENTON FL - FEBRUARY 20: Pitcher Bryan Morris #64 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photo during photo day at Pirate City on February 20 2011 in Bradenton Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
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Cory Giger reports that Bryan Morris and Jeff Locke will be back at Altoona to start the season. Locke isn't much of a surprise, since the Pirates announced that he had been sent back to Altoona when they demoted him from major-league camp. Those designations - when someone has been assigned to a particular level in minor-league camp - aren't always meaningful, but there was no reason not to take them at their word when they did it to Locke.

The news that Morris, though, would report to Class AA is new information. He started in 16 games there last year and pitched well, so it's a little disappointing that they're sending him back there, but it's probably a combination of the fact that he hasn't spent that much time at Class AA and the fact that, as Kyle Stark told me a couple weeks ago, they want to use some of their rotation time at Indianapolis on guys like Brian Burres who will provide depth at the big-league level. (I'm not sure Burres will be in the Indianapolis rotation, but he's the most obvious example.) Of course, there's the obvious question of why, if it would otherwise be in the best interests of someone like Locke or Morris to have them at Class AAA, you wouldn't just send them there and have guys like Brad Lincoln or Rudy Owens make a spot start or two in the majors if they're needed. It's not as if they would be likely to be significantly worse than Burres anyway. (WTM made a similar argument with regard to position players in the comments here.)

Giger also reports that first baseman Calvin Anderson will be back in Bradenton, where I'm guessing he'll share the position with Aaron Baker. In the article about Morris and Locke, Giger quotes Stark as saying that the Pirates are trying to find space for Matt Hague at Class AAA. That should be easier for them to do now that Josh Fields and Garrett Atkins are gone, and Steve Pearce and John Bowker have made the big-league team. So there seems to be space for Anderson at Altoona. If the Pirates are sending him back to Bradenton, it's probably because they honestly don't think he's ready for Class AA yet, which isn't an unreasonable conclusion given his mediocre numbers at Bradenton last year. But we'll see how things shake out.

UPDATE: Anderson will get at least some at bats in the outfield this year. If that's any kind of permanent move, I really wonder about Anderson's status as a prospect, since I just can't see any way a huge guy like that will ever be an adequate defensive outfielder. It also sounds like the Pirates aren't especially happy with Anderson's defense at first:

"Calvin's upside is going to be dictated by his bat, and so we've got to make sure his bat's playing," Stark said.  "First base is hard for him.  So the thought process is getting him away from the ball where he can free up a little bit, and the defense doesn't wear on him as much, then maybe the bat plays a little bit more.  So it's trying to maximize his potential as much as it is other roster decisions."

Thanks to OnlyBucs.