BRADENTON, Fla. - The Pirates still have yet to decide whether several key members of the Curve's 2010 championship team will return to Altoona this season.
Bucs farm director Kyle Stark said Sunday that pitching prospects Bryan Morris and Jeff Locke are slated to be with the Curve. Lefty Justin Wilson, MVP of the Eastern League playoffs, remains a question mark for Double-A or Triple-A.
"We're still working through some things," Stark said of Wilson, who went 11-8 with a 3.09 ERA in 26 starts a year ago.
The starting point for the four infielders from last year's Curve squad - first baseman Matt Hague, second baseman Jordy Mercer, shortstop Chase d'Arnaud and third baseman Josh Harrison - also has yet to be decided.
"We're working hard to see if we can get Hague to Triple-A," Stark said. "We're working hard to see if we can get Harrison in Triple-A. We've got to make a decision on d'Arnaud and Mercer."
The Pirates will not finalize their roster until Tuesday or Wednesday, so a trickle-down effect still could impact several Double-A decisions.
The Curve are expected to field a strong team with numerous prospects coming up from Single-A, and they would be even better if the core group of infielders does indeed return.
Hague enjoyed one of the best all-around seasons in Curve history in 2010, ranking in the franchise's top 10 in RBIs (4th-86), hits (5th-150), runs (4th-90) and walks (5th-61) while batting .295 with 15 homers. The numbers would indicate he deserves a promotion to Triple-A, but nothing is given yet.
d'Arnaud hit just .247 and committed 28 errors but also cracked the Curve's single-season top 10 list in runs (3rd-91), doubles (4th-33), triples (5th-9), steals (4th-33) and walks (9th-56).
d'Arnaud's fate seems to depend on what the Pirates do with Pedro Ciriaco, who was optioned to Triple-A on Sunday so that Rule 5 pick Josh Rodriguez could make the big league club as a backup middle infielder.
If the Pirates want Ciriaco to play shortstop for Indianapolis, they may be forced to send d'Arnaud back to Altoona so he can play every day.
Mercer, it would appear, almost certainly will be back with the Curve after hitting .282 with 65 RBIs last season. Harrison, who hit .300 with 75 RBIs, also awaits a decision on his opening-day home.
The Pirates are expected to make more minor league roster moves today, so the Curve roster may come into better focus. Some of the locks for the opening-day roster include catcher Tony Sanchez and outfielder Starling Marte, the Bucs' No. 2 and 4 prospects, according to Baseball America.
"Right now the whole group isn't together," Curve manager P.J. Forbes said. "Starting [today] there will be another roster shift, and we'll get pretty close to that group that's going to be going to Altoona."
Forbes himself hasn't even been with the Double-A group this spring. The Pirates have had their Triple-A coaching staff working with the big league team, so Forbes has been overseeing the Triple-A group.