Bucs hand Gerut unconditional release

Bucs hand Gerut unconditional release

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Jody Gerut wasn't surprised to get his unconditional release early Thursday morning, but as he said, the timing sure stunk.

Gerut, 29, has not seen action since Aug. 10, 2005, after injuring his right knee. Since then, he's undergone two surgeries to correct the problem, and he was in the home stretch of his return to the Majors. Earlier in Spring Training, the outfielder was optimistic about being ready to start the season, but Thursday he said he understood why the Pirates couldn't take that chance.

"It was always a possibility, and it definitely makes a lot of sense," Gerut said. "Either way, I've got to get healthy before I play. That's going to take some time."

Gerut added that he has a Plan B in place, but declined to discuss the specifics, saying that he'd rather "let it play out in my head first."

Gerut, who had shown a lot of promise in his rookie year with Cleveland, came to Pittsburgh in July of 2005 in a deal with the Cubs but played just four games for the Pirates before his injury. He's a career .263 hitter with 75 doubles in 320 Major League games.

"We just came to the decision that he was not part of the 25 best players in this camp," Pittsburgh general manager Dave Littlefield said. "We had hopes for him, we really thought he'd be part of the mix when we acquired him. It just didn't work out the way we'd hoped."

The Pirates are obligated to pay Gerut one-sixth of his salary, or roughly $141,000, which he said will benefit him as he waits for his alternative plan to take effect.

"I fully think that I'm going to play this year, and I fully think that it's going to be in the big leagues at some point, and I'm not too worried about that," he said.

Dawn Klemish is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.