Pitching pipeline continues from Triple-A to Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH – The Pittsburgh Pirates made a flurry of pitching moves Saturday, and will probably make one more in the next 48 hours.

The Pirates added righthanded relievers Vin Mazzaro and Jared Hughes to the active roster, placed Stolmy Pimentel on the disabled list and optioned fill-in starter Brandon Cumpton to Class AAA Indianapolis.

They currently have four starters and eight relievers on the roster and will add a starter to work Monday’s home game against the San Francisco Giants.

For Mazzaro, it’s a complete return after he was designated for assignment as one of the last cuts of spring training. The Pirates tried to trade him, but found no takers. Then he cleared waivers and was re-signed to a minor league deal.

“Frankly we were shocked that he got through waivers,” general manager Neal Huntington said.

Hughes is with the Pirates for the third time in the first five weeks of the season.

Pimentel has been working out of the bullpen, and gave up Matt Wieters’ home run that ended Thursday’s doubleheader loss in Baltimore.

Pimentel has seen a drop in his velocity this season. The Pirates said he has shoulder inflammation. His DL assignment was back-dated to May 2.

Cumpton made two starts for the Pirates when he was called up to replace Wandy Rodriguez. Cumpton had an 0-1 record and 4.26 ERA in two starts.

The Pirates will need a starter Monday, and there’s a possibility they’ll bring up lefthander Jeff Locke.

Tweaking the lineup

Josh Harrison started in right field for the Pirates and batted first.

He got the start because of his career work against knuckeball specialist R.A. Dickey, who started Saturday’s game for Toronto.

Harrison was 6-for-14 against Dickey entering the game.

“He’s played right field before and his numbers are good against Dickey,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “Whenever we put him in the lineup, we’re looking for a little bit of charge. He plays with energy, there’s speed, there’s useable speed. We did it a number of times last year.”

Gaby Sanchez has been even better against Dickey, taking an 8-for-21 career mark into Saturday’s game.

There are a lot of different theories on hitting the unpredictable knuckleball. Hitters don’t get a lot of practice because there are very few pitchers who use the knuckleball.

“Guys are going to have different thoughts on it,” Hurdle said. “Everybody has a little different theory. Yeah, when it’s up, look for it up. Some guys go to a bigger bat. Pete Rose used to use a smaller bat and just try to swat it.

“We always encourage them that whatever you’ve got , stay with it. Don’t go up there and try to change your approach with every at bat against him.”