Unable to trade him, Pirates release utility man Ramon Vazquez

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After designating him for assignment last week and apparently finding no takers via trade, the Pirates released Ramon Vazquez today.
Pittsburgh signed Vazquez to a two-year, $4 million deal last offseason, but he hit just .230/.335/.279 as a part-time player and then struggled this spring following winter knee surgery at age 33.
With the Pirates on the hook for this season’s $2 million salary Vazquez should be able to find a bench gig elsewhere for the minimum salary. He’s logged over 1,000 innings at each of second base, shortstop, and third base and hits reasonably well for a utility man with a .254/.328/.350 career line in 696 games.

Michael Pineda throws off mound for first time since Tommy John surgery

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According to MLB.com associate reporter Jarrid Denney, right-hander Michael Pineda threw off a mound Wednesday morning at Target Field for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Pineda was signed to a two-year, $10 million free agent contract this winter by the Twins, who are probably more focused on what he might be able to do in 2019 rather than 2018.

He had the reconstructive elbow surgery last July 18, so he won’t be an option for the Minnesota rotation until probably late August or September of this year. Still, that deal seems like a nice gamble given the price point and the possibility that he will regain his form as a No. 2 or No. 3 starter. That he’s making steady progress in his rehab makes the situation all the more encouraging.

Pineda, 29, holds a 4.05 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, and 687 strikeouts in 680 career major league innings.