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Pirates notebook: Grilli pledges to return soon

Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates pitcher Jason Grilli talks with conditioning coach Brendon Huttmann in the dugout during the first inning against the Cardinals on Monday, July 29, 2013, at PNC Park.

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'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Monday, July 29, 2013, 7:57 p.m.

Jason Grilli spoke to reporters Monday for the first time since injuring his right arm last week, and he made a promise the Pirates hope their closer can keep.

“I'm going to be ready before the season is out,” Grilli said. “You can mark my word on that.”

Grilli is expected to miss 4-to-8 weeks after straining a flexor muscle in his right forearm last week in Washington. The good news for the Pirates is Grilli said the injury is muscular in nature and not related to a tendon. The Pirates said he is not a candidate for surgery.

The flexor muscle starts at the elbow — where Grilli felt pain — and connects to the flexor tendons that attach to bones in the hand.

“It's not a bad thing,” said Grilli of the injury being muscular in nature and not related to a tendon tear. “I'm here in the clubhouse and not on a surgery table. For me, this is the best-case scenario for right now.”

Grilli is expected to be evaluated after resting for nine to 12 more days. Grilli indicated he will take a conservative approach with his recovery.

“I'm going to take my time and make sure I'm accountable for this stretch run,” Grilli said. “I want to be a part of this.”

Grilli said he was pitching with some discomfort prior to his injury.

“I'm not going to put myself in a position where I ask, ‘Could I have sat myself down earlier?' That's all hindsight,” Grilli said. “I'm the kind of guy that wants the ball. … There are a lot of guys in this game that are not at 100 percent. This is what you do as an athlete. You subject yourself to playing at less than 100 percent.”

Grilli has 30 saves and a 2.34 ERA. He said he's received an overwhelming amount of support since his injury.

“This town, the guys in this room, it means a lot,” Grilli said. “I wear my heart on my sleeve. I'm trying to give all of myself to do what is wanted here in this town for a long time.”

McKenry to DL; Presley recalled

The Pirates placed backup catcher Michael McKenry (knee) on the disabled list and recalled left-handed hitting outfielder Alex Presley from Triple-A.

McKenry injured his left knee when sliding into second base Saturday night in Miami. McKenry's knee has not responded well following the injury.

“If you look at my knee, it's the whole knee right now, it's so swollen,” McKenry said. “It's a little bit worse than what we expected. ... When I have to plant real hard on the knee, it hurts.”

McKenry did not reveal the exact nature of his injury. He said he would have more medical tests Monday or Tuesday.

The move to the disabled list means catcher Tony Sanchez will be with the team for at least the next two weeks — and perhaps the rest of the season — if McKenry's knee requires surgery.

McKenry has struggled this season, hitting .217 and throwing out 6 of 41 base stealers. Sanchez has had a breakout offensive campaign at Triple-A but has also had throwing issues.

Cardinals adjust rotation

The Cardinals moved right-hander Lance Lynn from starting the second game of Tuesday's doubleheader to starting the first, at 4:05 p.m., against A.J. Burnett.

“We want our more experienced pitcher lining up with theirs,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.

Cardinals left-hander Tyler Lyons will start the second game. The Pirates haven't said who will start the nightcap.

Trade winds

According to sources, the White Sox asked for Jameson Taillon or Gregory Polanco from the Pirates in exchange for outfielder Alex Rios. The Pirates rejected the offer. The Pirates have also expressed some interest in White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez.

Staff writer Rob Biertempfel contributed to this story. Travis Sawchik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @Sawchik_Trib.

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