PITTSBURGH (93-7 THE FAN) — The Pirates have recalled right-handed closer Jason Grilli from his rehab assignment with Double-A Altoona and reinstated him from the disabled list, the team announced today.
He is also active for tonight’s game, as the Bucs try to end 20 years of losing baseball against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park, beginning with an 8:10 first pitch on The Fan.
The Pirates have also returned fellow righty Jared Hughes to their bullpen, while concurrently recalling outfielder Andrew Lambo, left-handed starting pitcher Jeff Locke and catcher Tony Sanchez from the Curve. They, too, are active for Tuesday night’s game.
Grilli, 36, became one of the feel-good stories of the 2013 MLB season when he earned his first-ever All-Star nod by posting 30 saves in his first 32 opportunities to lead the National League. He posted a 2.34 ERA and 0.92 WHIP in 42 1/3 innings, striking out 66 against just 11 walks.
He has been out since straining his right forearm in a win at Nationals Park July 22, and as Bill Brink of the Post-Gazette learned from manager Clint Hurdle’s regular game day media scrum, Grilli will not get his old job back just yet:
Jason Grilli will not immediately assume closer’s role. Won’t pitch consecutive games at first, no more than 25 pitches.
— Bill Brink (@BrinkPG) September 3, 2013
Makeshift closer Mark Melancon, another All-Star, has converted eight of nine save opportunities in Grilli’s place, striking out 12 and allowing just 12 hits.
Hughes, 28, has spent much of 2013 battling a shoulder injury, posting an 0.43 ERA and 1.14 WHIP with Triple-A Indianapolis, along with 18 K’s and seven free passes, in 21 innings. In 24 games with the big club, he’s just 2-3 with a 4.44 ERA out of the ‘pen.
Lambo, 25, hit just .211 in his first eight games with the Bucs this year after leading the minor leagues with 31 home runs prior to his mid-August call-up. With Indianapolis he has hit .279 with a .908 OPS, 32 total homers, and 100 RBI.
Sanchez, 25, was temporarily demoted to make room for backup catcher John Buck, recently acquired via waivers from the Mets, on the Pirates’ big-league roster. The 2009 fourth overall draftee has hit .220 with two doubles and four RBI in 15 games with the Bucs, and he’s hit .282 with 10 homers and 42 driven in while playing with the Indians and Curve.
Locke’s demotion was also temporary, though the Pirates hope his time in the minors, brief though it was, allows him to regain his first-half form. The 25-year-old southpaw earned his first career All-Star nomination surged to an 8-2 record and 2.15 ERA to begin the season, but since the All-Star Break, he is 1-2 with a 6.18 ERA, and his walk rate has increased steadily.
Meanwhile, according to Brink, the Pirates will start A.J. Burnett Friday in St. Louis, followed by Locke Saturday, and Charlie Morton Sunday.
The Pirates entered Tuesday with a one-game lead over the Cardinals in the NL Central.
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