Pirates notebook: Presley shipped out, Locke brought up to boost bullpen

Pirates lefty Jeff Locke looked like he could’ve pitched all day Saturday in the Pirates’ 3-0 win against the Tampa Bay Rays. File photo
Pirates lefty Jeff Locke looked like he could’ve pitched all day Saturday in the Pirates’ 3-0 win against the Tampa Bay Rays. File photo
Photo by Christopher Horner
Rob Biertempfel
| Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012, 6:44 p.m.

On Wednesday, Pirates left-hander Jeff Locke was promoted from and outfielder Alex Presley was sent to Triple-A Indianapolis. Locke was brought up to keep the bullpen from being shorthanded during righty Kevin Correia's spot start against Arizona.

“(Locke) gives us volume of innings if we need them,” manager Clint Hurdle said.

Locke's stay could be brief; Correia will be back in a relief role in a couple of days. The longer Locke stays in the bullpen, the more he'll fall out of his routine as a starter.

“We're going to take it a day or two at a time,” Hurdle said.

Barring an injury, Presley cannot be recalled for 10 days. So, if Locke is sent back to Indy early next week, there's a chance Jose Tabata (who is hitting .315 with a .743 on-base plus slugging percentage) could be recalled.

Locke made four starts last year as a September call-up and went 0-3 with a 6.48 ERA.

“It was an eye-opener,” he said. “Now, it's a completely different clubhouse.”

A much different situation, too. The Pirates were out of the race last year when Locke arrived; this year, they're battling for a playoff bid.

“I think he's in a much better place to compete,” Hurdle said.

Locke was 9-5 with a 2.66 ERA in 21 starts at Indy. To fill his spot there, righty Kyle McPherson was promoted from Double-A Altoona.

• Look for Chad Qualls to fill in for Jason Grilli as the setup man for the next few weeks. Grilli's fastball velocity had dropped to around 92 mph, then veered upward a bit recently after a couple of days off. “We'll have to monitor it,” Hurdle said. Constantly working in high-leverage situations takes a mental and physical toll. “It's the life of a relief pitcher,” Grilli said with a shrug. On Tuesday, Grilli allowed four runs without getting an out in the eighth inning of 10-4 loss to the Diamondbacks. After the game, he went straight home and crashed. “I went right to sleep — that's how mentally exhausted I was,” he said. “I had to totally turn my mind off. I woke up about 5:30 in the morning, the birds were chirping, and I knew it was a new day.” Qualls, 33, has pitched in a variety of roles in his nine-year career. Since his debut in 2004 and entering Wednesday, Qualls ranked third among major leaguers with 582 appearances. “He gives us versatility,” Hurdle said. “We'll see where it goes.”

— Rob Biertempfel

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