Pirates notebook: Closer Grilli sharp in brief outing
BRADENTON, Fla. — In spring training games, a big league closer hardly ever works the ninth inning.
The lineup usually is full of backups and minor league hitters before the seventh-inning stretch. So the best chance for a reliever to face top-notch competition is early in the game.
“I don't look at it like that,” Pirates closer Jason Grilli said. “Guys who have a stick in their hand in the batter's box is plenty good for me, especially if they have an opposing (team's) jersey on.”
On Friday, Grilli made his Grapefruit League debut in the third inning against the Minnesota Twins after starter Wandy Rodriguez finished his work. Grilli breezed through his one-inning outing, getting Kurt Suzuki on a fly out, Jason Barrett on a strikeout and Alex Presley on a grounder.
“It feels good to get on the bump and see all the hard work come into effect,” Grilli said.
Grilli, 37, has been eased into workouts this spring after missing six weeks last season due to a sprained right flexor tendon.
“He's going to get as many innings as he's gotten in the past,” manager Clint Hurdle said.
A 12-year veteran, Grilli knows how to make the most out of spring training preparations.
“Just get through it,” he said. “It's rather long. Guys work tremendously hard in the offseason. We all have training programs that we could probably make infomercials and sell DVDs on. We're probably over-prepared for spring training. If you try to get in shape during spring, it's almost too late.”
Elite vs. elite
Pirates right-hander Gerrit Cole, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 draft, faced Twins outfielder Byron Buxton, the No. 2 overall pick in 2012, in a “B” game at Pirate City. Cole blossomed into a front-of-the-rotation pitcher down the stretch in 2013, and Buxton is now the game's consensus top prospect.
Score a win for Cole. Buxton was frozen by a sharp curveball for a called third strike in the first inning. In the third, Cole got Buxton to chase a 89 mph slider out of the zone for another strikeout.
Cole touched 97 mph and averaged between 92-96 mph with his fastball. He pitched three innings, allowed three hits, including a home run, walked one, and struck out four. While his breaking ball was sharp, Cole struggled with fastball location.
Cole was followed by left-hander Justin Wilson, who touched 94 mph, and right-hander Stolmy Pimentel, who hit 95 mph.
Presley returned to McKechnie Field for the first time as a visiting player.
“It was a little strange,” said Presley, who broke into the majors with the Pirates in 2010. “I've never been on this other side before. It's good to see everybody. When you come back like this, you realize all the relationships you'd built over the years.”
Presley, 28, had a .299 on-base percentage over four seasons with the Pirates, who expected more from him. He was traded to Minnesota in August as part of the deal for first baseman Justin Morneau.
“I got some chances in Pittsburgh,” Presley said. “I capitalized on some, didn't on others. The outfield is stacked in Pittsburgh, and it's a tough one to break. This is a new start, and I'm excited to have the chance.”
This spring, Presley is in the running to be the Twins' everyday center fielder and leadoff hitter.
“If I play my game, I think I'll be fine,” Presley said. “I did a lot of good things last year with this team. If I steal a few more bases, I'll be good. We need some guys at the top who can run, and they're looking for me to be that guy.”
Presley singled leading off the first inning. He was thrown out trying to steal second base.
Around the horn
Neither Andrew McCutchen nor Russell Martin had played in a game since Monday, but they went a combined 5 for 6 with four runs scored and two RBIs against the Twins. “It's a funny game,” Hurdle said. “If we play them every third game and get those kind of results, we'll see where it takes us.” ... Right-hander Phil Irwin, who was bothered by a sore elbow, has resumed throwing. He will toss a bullpen session Monday and is slated to pitch Thursday against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib. Travis Sawchik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @Sawchik_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com 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.
- Pirates notebook: Hurdle, Huntington on same page
- Monday’s scouting report: Pirates at Giants
- Thinking outside box slows pace of MLB games
- Alvarez held out of starting lineup for 3rd straight game
- Biertempfel: Locke looks toward postseason run
- Pirates notebook: Cole to make rehab start at Indianapolis on Monday
- Minor league report: Sadler keeps producing without the hype
- Statistically speaking: Rockies’ bullpen suffering meltdowns
- Stats Corner: Mercer rediscovers offensive game
- Pirates’ Morton continues to tinker with hybrid split-changeup