PITTSBURGH (AP) -The Pirates dropped first baseman Josh Phelps off their 40-man roster in a surprise move and claimed right-hander Jimmy Barthmaier off waivers from the Houston Astros.
The Pirates firmed up their offseason roster late Tuesday by designating Phelps, right-hander Josh Sharpless and Shane Youman for assignment. Sharpless and Youman must pass through waivers before they could be assigned to a Pirates farm club, and Phelps cannot resign with the Pirates until May 15.
In addition to claiming Barthmaier, the Pirates promoted right-handers Olivo Astacio and Ronald Belisario and infielder Brian Bixler to their 40-man roster.
Barthmaier was rated by Baseball America as the Astros' fourth-best prospect before going 2-9 with a 6.20 ERA in 24 games last season for Double-A Corpus Christi.
Astacio, a former Red Sox farmhand, had a 1-2 record with 12 saves and a 4.93 ERA with 91 strikeouts in 65 2-3 innings with Class A Hickory and Lynchburg and Double-A Altoona. Belisario was 1-3 with four saves and a 3.97 ERA in 37 games at Lynchburg and Altoona.
Bixler, the Pirates' top infield prospect, hit .274 with five home runs, 51 RBIs and 28 stolen bases in 129 games at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Phelps, picked up on waivers from the Yankees last season, hit .351 in 28 games with Pittsburgh and had five homers and 19 RBIs. He hit .436 in 11 spot starts despite being used infrequently by manager Jim Tracy.
Youman was 3-5 with a 5.97 ERA in 16 games, including eight starts. Sharpless had a 1.50 ERA in 14 games with Pittsburgh in 2006, but spent most of last season with Indianapolis. He had a 12.46 ERA in six Pirates appearances.
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