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Pirates' 2015 Opening Day roster features several surprising newcomers

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Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

We've already covered all the moves that have led the Pirates to this point (placing Charlie Morton on the DL, optioning John Holdzkom, designating Stolmy Pimentel and Pedro Florimon for assignment, and so on) but here's the roster the Pirates will take into Opening Day in Cincinnati tomorrow, all in one place.

STARTING PITCHERS (5)

A.J. Burnett
Gerrit Cole
Francisco Liriano
Jeff Locke
Vance Worley

RELIEVERS (7)

Antonio Bastardo
Arquimedes Caminero
Jared Hughes
Radhames Liz
Mark Melancon
Rob Scahill
Tony Watson

CATCHERS (2)

Francisco Cervelli
Tony Sanchez

INFIELDERS (7)

Pedro Alvarez
Josh Harrison
Corey Hart
Jung-Ho Kang
Jordy Mercer
Sean Rodriguez
Neil Walker

OUTFIELDERS (4)

Andrew Lambo
Starling Marte
Andrew McCutchen
Gregory Polanco

One thing that sticks out about this roster is that there are a number of names that would have puzzled us just a few months ago. Radhames Liz, really? You mean that guy who was really wild for the Orioles like six years ago? Why are Arquimedes Caminero and Rob Scahill on the 40-man? The Pirates won the bidding for a top international player? And Burnett came back?

There are probably a couple of those kinds of surprising players every year, and maybe it sounds naive to express surprise at all. But we could have looked at a list of the other new guys (Cervelli, Hart, Rodriguez and Bastardo) back in October and made sense of it. In fact, if presented with that list, we probably could have guessed that Russell Martin left, the Pirates traded Justin Wilson for Cervelli, and then replaced Wilson with Bastardo.

With players like Liz, Caminero and Kang, though, we're seeing the Pirates go ever further off the grid (almost literally, in Kang's case) to solve roster problems. The keys to the back end of this year's roster are transactional flexibility and the Pirates' ability to work with pitchers. Players like Kang and Rodriguez are with the team in part because they can help at a variety of positions. Lambo is with the team rather than Travis Snider in part because Lambo has options and Snider didn't, which means that Lambo can head back to the minors if there's an emergency elsewhere. And Liz and Caminero are with the team because they're good arms the Pirates can work with, and as we saw last year with John Holdzkom, those can come from pretty much anywhere.

The core of this Pirates team is well known, and how good the Bucs are will depend heavily on McCutchen, Marte, Walker, Harrison, Cole, Liriano, Melancon and Watson. But for the baseball geek, it will be at least as interesting to see how players like Liz, Caminero, Kang and Lambo fare.