Independent Baseball Chatter – by Bob Wirz
If anyone thinks it is easy to stay in the major leagues even after an amazing jump in 2014 from Independent Baseball (Sioux City 2013, Amarillo 2013-14) all the way to the playoff-bound Pittsburgh bullpen and a good ’15 spring training they might look at the situation surrounding John Holdzkom.
“We love what John is doing, but we have a handful of other guys who are throwing the ball well, ” general manager Neal Huntington told Bucsdugout.com this week. “We’re going to have some interesting decisions with the (final bench spot) and the bullpen.”
The 6-foot-9 Holdzkom turned in a 2.00 ERA with 14 strikeouts in nine innings after joining the Pirates late last season. He allowed only two hits in his first four scoreless innings this spring before Houston got to the right-hander for two runs in 1.1 innings earlier this week. Still, don’t be surprised if he starts the season in Triple-A.
The Pirates have seven bullpen spots available. Mark Melancon, Tony Watson and Antonio Bastardo are considered locks, but the rub comes in since several borderline starters and relievers are out of options. One of those is Arquimedes Caminero, who Bucsdugout says manager Clint Hurdle has been comparing to Holdzkom.
Of course, even if he does get sent down to start the season is seems a safe bet Holdzkom will return at some time during the campaign. He has offered too much not to be recalled when help is needed.