ShareThis Page

Pirates place Grilli on 15-day DL, tab Melancon to close

Rob Biertempfel
| Tuesday, July 23, 2013, 5:09 p.m.

WASHINGTON — For the next couple of weeks, and possibly longer, closer Jason Grilli won't be able to punctuate Pirates victories with his trademark fist pump.

Grilli went on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday with a strained right forearm. He left the team that afternoon to return to Pittsburgh, where team doctors will determine the full nature and severity of his injury and begin to plot his recovery.

Grilli was injured while pitching Monday against the Washington Nationals. After throwing the first pitch to pinch-hitter Steve Lombardozzi, Grilli stepped off the mound, clearly in pain. After an athletic trainer briefly looked at his arm and elbow, Grilli left the game.

“The initial read was he was going to be down at least 10 days, so the DL was a no-brainer,” general manager Neal Huntington said. “But for us to speculate on anything else at this point would be purely that. He's optimistic, and we'll go from there.”

Right-handed reliever Vic Black was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis and in uniform for Tuesday's game against the Nationals. Black went 1-2 with 15 saves, a 2.31 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP in 23 outings for Indy.

Mark Melancon will get first crack at closing games while Grilli is out. Melancon has 23 career saves — two this year, one last season with the Boston Red Sox and 20 in 2011 with the Houston Astros.

“I don't look at it as being any different than what I've been doing,” said Melancon, who leads the National League with 26 holds.

Grilli isn't afraid to show his emotions after nailing down a save. Melancon, however, is not the type to do something flashy, like a back flip off the mound.

“If I could do it, I probably would,” Melancon said with a laugh. “Being (low key) is just who I am. I'm not trying to create a personal show.”

Manager Clint Hurdle said he doesn't want to settle on one setup man. Right-handers Bryan Morris and Vin Mazzaro and lefties Tony Watson and Justin Wilson will share the duties in the eighth inning.

“While Jason's down, we'll just have to pick each other up, like we have done all year,” Watson said. “We've got confidence in every arm down there. The great thing is everybody has pitched in different roles, so their experience factor is good. We'll keep grinding and find a way.”

Grilli's absence could affect what the Pirates do — or opt not to do — at the trade deadline. They might pursue bullpen help, but the market is thin, and teams that think the Pirates could be desperate for help are likely to hike their asking prices.

A scout from a National League club was at Monday's game, checking out the Pirates' middle relievers. With Grilli out, the Pirates have to be more cautious about including a reliever such as Wilson or Watson in a trade package.

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.