Bucs cut eight, including Hart

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Kevin Hart was among eight players cut by the Pirates on Tuesday morning. Hart was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis, which would seem to take him out of the running for the fifth spot in the rotation. Though nothing has been announced as of now, it’s expected that this means Daniel McCutchen will be the Pirates’ fifth starter to begin the season.

Chris Jakubauskas and Neil Walker were also optioned to Triple-A this morning. Brian Myrow, Brian Burres, Wil Ledezma, Jean Machi and Hector Gimenez reassigned to Minor League camp.

There are now 37 players in Major League camp.

UPDATED at 9:12 am:

Here are some quotes from GM Neal Huntington:

On Hart being optioned: “There’s going to be a lot made that he lost the fifth starter job. We’ve got one start between now and April 24 when our fifth starter will be used. Kevin Hart has some work to do. We’re excited about the potential. We love the stuff. He didn’t pitch well this Spring Training, and as of now, Daniel McCutchen outpitched him and will be our starter for April 11. Daniel has a chance to put a stranglehold on the job with what he does between now and April 11, what he does on April 11, and we he does after. It means that Kevin Hart has some work to do. We’re excited about his upside. We felt it was best to take him out of camp right now to be able to solidify some things mechanically and be able to get him to trust his stuff and make it play at the Major League level at some point for us.

“It’s not all mental. It’s the passion and the desire to do well that sometimes inhibits the mechanics. We’re making a lot out of a pitcher struggling this spring. In Kevin’s situation, it’s a matter of getting the emotions and the adrenaline out of the way.”

On what McCutchen showed this spring: “We talked about it coming in that we had a competition with those two. Daniel stepped forward. He’s shown an average to solid Major League fastball. The slider is a good improvement for him this year. He’s got an above-average Major League changeup with quality command. That’s a good Major League pitcher. Daniel has earned this opportunity and what he does with it decides where we go from here.”

On plan for Walker in Triple-A: “Neil’s going to be one of those players who has the opportunity to become an everyday big-leaguer by being a role player initially. He’s going to get time at third, time in the outfield, time at first and, as we get comfortable, some time at second base. He’s had a great approach this spring. He just wants to help the Pittsburgh Pirates win. He’s maturing with the bat. He’s not giving away the at-bats we’ve seen in the past, and his work has been outstanding. He’s bounced around the field, taken balls off the bat with two different groups, then hit with the third group. It’s a lot of work, and Neil’s really stepped up this spring.”

On plan for Jakubauskas in Triple-A: “He may need to come up and make some starts for us. He needs to go down there and build some arm strength. We didn’t see the same arm strength this spring as what we saw with Seattle. There’s a difference there. It’s a couple miles an hour, but it’s made a difference for Chris.”

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