Pirates finalize Opening Day roster

Pirates finalize Opening Day roster

PITTSBURGH -- A few hours before taking the field at PNC Park, the Pirates finalized their Opening Day roster by selecting the contracts of Matt Joyce, Cole Figueroa and Cory Luebke to round out their bench and bullpen.

Adding Joyce and Luebke was a formality, as the Pirates already committed to carrying them on their active roster. Figueroa, meanwhile, won the competition for the final spot on the bench over corner infielder Jason Rogers and shortstop Pedro Florimon. This is the first time Figueroa, 28, has been named to an Opening Day roster.

"This is something I haven't experienced before," said Figueroa, standing in front of his new locker in the PNC Park home clubhouse. "I don't really know what it's going to feel like, but I definitely know it's going to be a little different and a lot more exciting."

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said Figueroa's defensive versatility and left-handed bat gave him an edge over Florimon, who also was designated for assignment before Opening Day last season.

Figueroa got the news from Hurdle and general manager Neal Huntington about 35 minutes after the final out of the club's exhibition in Indianapolis on Saturday. He was the last man called into Hurdle's office. He figured that was a good sign, but he was still uncertain.

"Typically, you want to break bad news first. At that point, so many things had taken turns that I had no idea," Figueroa said. "I was just glad that when I got called in, they gave me some good news."

Luebke found out Tuesday night he would head north with the Pirates. The left-hander has missed the last three seasons due to various injuries and lengthy rehabilitations, so the Opening Day assignment was particularly meaningful for him.

"The last three years, Opening Day's been a sad day for me. When they leave you out in Arizona to rehab, it's not fun watching Opening Day on TV," Luebke said. "It's just going to be exciting to be out there with the guys. Not that it's going to bring closure to the last three years or anything, but it's a start in the right direction."

Rogers, acquired over the offseason in exchange for prospects Keon Broxton and Trey Supak, was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis. To clear spots on their 40-man roster, the Pirates designated Florimon, reliever John Holdzkom and outfielder Jake Goebbert for assignment.

Pittsburgh also placed reliever Jared Hughes (left lat strain), catcher Elias Diaz (right elbow soreness) and infielder Jung Ho Kang (left leg surgery) on the 15-day disabled list, all retroactive to March 25.

Hughes is feeling better and has begun throwing, but not yet off the mound. Diaz is ticketed for Triple-A when he returns. Kang is still expected back in mid-to-late April.

Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.