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With New Team and Renewed Pitch, Josh Fleming Excited for Fresh Opportunity



Josh Fleming, Pittsburgh Pirates

BRADENTON, Fla. — There was a new face in camp on the first day of Pittsburgh Pirates’ spring training.

The Pirates signed left-handed pitcher Josh Fleming to a split-contract, a deal that will pay him $850,000 in the major leagues.

“I think I’ll get an opportunity to start, be a long guy out of the bullpen which is nice and just having a solidified role,” Fleming said on joining the Pirates. “I know with the Rays I was doing a lot of different things and I think here, I’m gonna have more of a solidified role. Just very excited.”

Fleming joins the Pirates after a four-year run with Tampa Bay. He was originally selected by the Rays in the fifth round of the 2017 draft out of Webster University in his home state of Missouri.

In four years with the Rays, Fleming accumulated a 19-13 record to go along with a 4.88 ERA. In 223.1 career innings, the left-hander has struck out 144 batters and walked 69.

In meeting with his new pitching coach Oscar Marin, Fleming said that the initial plan is for him to start, which would be his preferred role if he had the choice

“I’ve always been a starter my whole career,” he explained. “For me personally, I would love to be a starter. But I’ve always said whatever role from me is needed to help the team win, that’s what I will go all-in at. Whatever is needed, that’s what I’ll do.”

As currently constructed, the Pirates have two open spots in the starting rotation. Fleming joins a mix of several players, including Roansy Contreras, Luis Ortiz, Quinn Priester and Bailey Falter, as players vying for one of those final two spots.

As Fleming begins his tenure with the Pirates, he does so with a familiar weapon in his arsenal. The 27-year-old said he’s bringing back the cutter he threw in the beginning of his career. The pitch was scrapped in 2022 but will be back in his pitch mix with the Pirates.

“Just didn’t have the best feel for it, got hit around a lot,” Fleming said on why he temporarily abandoned the pitch. “One of the things when talking to some guys in the organization, they really liked the cutter and I actually did too before it got scrapped. I’m excited to start throwing it again.”

As is the case with just about any player this time of year, Fleming was happy to be back out there for the start of spring training.

He was joined by Falter along with fellow left-hander and non-roster invitee Michael Plassmeyer during his first bullpen session of the spring.

“It felt really good,” he said. “First bullpen, just trying to feel the mound. Being from St. Louis, all my bullpens in the offseason were inside, so this was my first one outside. Just trying to get back to feeling the mound and feeling the dirt again, just trying to feel comfortable.”

With his cutter back in the picture, Fleming will look to head to Miami with the team for opening day next month. If he doesn’t crack the initial roster, he will have to be outrighted to the minor leagues if the Pirates wish to keep him in the organization.

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