Huntington: Debating Juan Nicasio vs. Ryan Vogelsong “was the most intense conversation we’ve had.”

AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez

On Wednesday, the Pirates made it official that Juan Nicasio, not Ryan Vogelsong, would pitch out of the fifth and final spot in the club’s starting rotation. Nicasio had an outstanding spring, hurling 15 scoreless innings on 10 hits and five walks with 24 strikeouts. Vogelsong, meanwhile, struggled to a 6.14 ERA with a 4/6 K/BB ratio in 14 2/3 spring frames.

Still, picking between the two was difficult for the Pirates’ front office, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. GM Neal Huntington said the internal discussion concerning the two pitchers “was the most intense conversation we’ve had.” He added, “There were strong convictions on both sides.”

Vogelsong, 38, resurrected his career in 2011 and ’12 with the Giants, but struggled in each of the last three seasons, compiling an aggregate 4.63 ERA over 73 starts and 11 relief appearances. Nicasio was a reliever last year with the Dodgers, but the Pirates are hoping his work with pitching coach Ray Searage leads to some surplus value.