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Bucs make flurry of roster moves

Chicago Cubs v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Pirates made several roster moves Thursday and also announced that third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes had aggravated a left wrist injury that put him on the injured list April 4.

It had been hoped that Hayes was close to returning to action, but that setback means the team will need to do without its top prospect for an undetermined length of time.

In addition, the Bucs announced several roster moves prior to winning Thursday’s series finale with the Tigers in Detroit, designating outfielder Dustin Fowler for assignment, placing Chad Kuhl on the injured list and recalling veteran Todd Frazier from the club’s alternate training site.

Fowler was acquired from Oakland in late February, and he earned a share of the starting job in center field with Anthony Alford. But both struggled to make consistent contact at the plate, and that platoon is now history, as Alford was designated for assignment Wednesday and Fowler met the same fate Thursday.

Those moves mean that Bryan Reynolds will man center field for the foreseeable future, although the Pirates added another outfielder this week in Ka’ai Tom. The 5-foot-9, 185-pound left-handed hitter was claimed off waivers from Oakland, which had selected him in the Rule 5 draft.

Tom, who turns 27 next month, was a fifth-round draft pick by Cleveland in 2015 from the University of Kentucky. In his most recent minor league action in 2019, Tom split time between Class AA Akron and Triple-A Columbus, where he hit a combined .290 with 23 home runs, 86 RBIs and a .912 OPS.

Tom appeared in nine games with Oakland this season and managed just one hit in 16 at-bats.

Because of his Rule 5 status, Tom must remain on the Pirates’ major league roster all season or the club risks losing him.

Kuhl’s injury was described as right shoulder discomfort, and Pirates manager Derek Shelton was quoted on as saying that a combination of cold weather and some upcoming off days led the Pirates to move the right-hander to the injured list.

“We just felt that it was the best opportunity to give him a little bit of a break,” Shelton said.

Hayes reinjured his wrist while taking what the club called “high-velocity” swings during a batting practice session in Detroit. He originally injured the wrist while hitting against Jake Arrieta on April 3.

Shelton said he told Hayes to remain positive. “We’re 19 games into the season,” he said. “Let’s stay positive. Let’s reassess and move on and see where we’re at.”

Frazier, meanwhile, is expected to provide depth at both third and first base. He served as the Pirates’ DH Thursday against Detroit and could do the same during the upcoming weekend series against the Twins in Minnesota.