Bucs Hope Penn Realizes Potential

The Pirates are hoping that right-hander Hayden Penn regains the form that made him just the 29th player in Baltimore Orioles history to make his Major League debut before the age of 21 when he started on May 28, 2005 vs. Detroit.

Since that time it's been a mixed bag for Penn who selected by Baltimore in the fifth round of the 2002 First-Year Player Draft, Penn was named the Orioles' Minor League Pitcher-of-the-Year in 2004 after finishing third in the organization with 122 strikeouts and 10th with a 3.81 ERA.

Penn split the 2009 season with Florida and Triple-A New Orleans after being acquired by the Marlins from Baltimore on April 1 in exchange for infielder Robert Andino. The 25-year-old righthander was a member of Florida's Opening Day roster in 2009 and went 1-0 in 16 appearances (one start) with the Marlins. In addition, Penn went 2-4 in 14 games (13 starts) with New Orleans.

Pirates GM Neal Huntington has had Penn on his radar for some time.

"When you hear that kind of stuff, you always wonder, 'Are they serious or are they just saying it?'" said Penn. "I talked with Neal (on Monday), and he said they had interest before, so I'm glad to be here."

Penn will have a small window of opportunity with the Pirates because no options remain on his contract, he would have to clear waivers before he was sent to the minor leagues.

"We plan to have him throw on Thursday and Saturday (in preseason games), and we'll make a decision from there," Huntington said. "Whether we keep 11 (pitchers) or 12, who be the final one or two people is something that we'll have to decide this weekend."

Penn knows he is under the gun to make an impression.

"It's the same game," he said. "I'll go out there and do everything that I can (to earn a roster spot). If I'm on my game, then I'll show them what I need to show them. If I don't, then I won't. It's as simple as that."

Penn struggled in five spring outings with the Marlins and had an 8.81 ERA.

"I struggled a little bit in the last two outings, but my first part of spring was pretty good," he said. "I got thrown out of rotation starting and reliving, but I felt good health-wise. I'm ready to go."

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