Pirates designate Jonathan Sanchez for assignment, call up Bryan Morris

Dilip Vishwanat

The Pirates will eat the remainder of Jonathan Sanchez's contract while Morris will slot into Pittsburgh's bullpen.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have designated pitcher Jonathan Sanchez for assignment after he struggled mightily to begin the season. In his place, the team has called up pitcher Bryan Morris.

The move makes sense on a couple of levels for Pittsburgh. Sanchez, 30, has a hearing set for Friday following his appeal of a six game suspension for throwing at St. Louis Cardinals hitters, notes the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He will likely be suspended for at least a few games, and dropping him prevents the Pirates from having to work with a 24 man roster.

Of course, the primary reason for removing Sanchez from the roster is his poor performance. Sanchez started the year in the rotation and made four starts, but only pitched more than 3.1 innings once, in his first start of the season. He was removed from the rotation after failing to record an out against the Cardinals before he was ejected. He still managed to give up two home runs before exiting the game. Sanchez made his first relief appearance yesterday against the Milwaukee Brewers and pitched 2.1 innings, allowing two runs on four hits. Both runs came on homers.

Overall, Sanchez has an 11.85 ERA with a whopping 4.61 HR/9. The Pirates took a chance on his talent and great strikeout numbers but, like the Royals before them, Pittsburgh got burned by his poor control and penchant for giving up the long ball. The Pirates will eat the remainder of the $1.375 million that he is owed for the season, says ESPN's Jim Bowden.

Morris, 26, has made two brief appearances in the majors recently, including throwing three shutout innings against the Cardinals in mid-April this season. He also pitched five games last season for the Pirates. Morris has been with the Pirates organization since 2008 after being drafted in the first round by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2006. Originally tested as a starting pitcher, Morris has found his niche in the bullpen.

Since moving to a relief role permanently in 2012 and pitching in Triple-A for the first time, Morris has posted a 2.58 over 51 games. He has worked in a long relief role often and tossed 81 innings in 46 games last season.

Morris will slot into the Pirates' bullpen, which means Jeanmar Gomez will remain in Pittsburgh's rotation for the foreseeable future. He is expected to receive his first start on Wednesday.

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