Hurdle gets beefier bench for Wild Card Game

Hurdle gets beefier bench for Wild Card Game

Hurdle gets beefier bench for Wild Card Game

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates' 25-man roster for the National League Wild Card game will not be released until soon after it is filed with the league office at 10 a.m. ET Tuesday, but it will present manager Clint Hurdle with unprecedented options off the bench.

Since teams can set their roster specifically for the one-game play-in round -- and make changes for the NL Division Series if advancing -- the Pirates will carry only two starting pitchers: Francisco Liriano, who will actually make the start against the Reds, and Gerrit Cole, for an emergency.

NL Wild Card
The Pirates will also have the regular seven-man Shark Tank in the bullpen: Jeanmar Gomez, Bryan Morris, Vin Mazzaro, lefties Justin Wilson and Tony Watson, and the end-game duo of Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli.

A nine-man staff -- versus the routine 12 pitchers during the season -- will endow Hurdle's bench with three extra position players. One of them will be a third catcher, Tony Sanchez staying with Russell Martin and John Buck. Hurdle will also have an extra infielder and outfielder at his disposal. It likely means both Gaby Sanchez and Garrett Jones will be on the roster, and either Travis Snider or Felix Pie -- two lefty hitters -- joining Jose Tabata as outfield extras.

"We'll have more extra men than ever before, for hitting, running, defensive switches," said Hurdle, who does have one elimination game on his managerial resume, but under vastly different circumstances.

When his 2007 Colorado Rockies met the San Diego Padres in a 163rd game to determine the NL Wild Card, that was considered an extension of the regular season, so the expanded September rosters were available to both managers. Hurdle used 23 players in that game, to Bud Black's 21.

Tom Singer is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.