Pimentel to pitch in relief role for Pirates

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MILWAUKEE -- In Stolmy Pimentel's 152 appearances in seven pro seasons, he came out of the bullpen five times. Now, when he makes his major league debut, he will do so in relief.

"It's fine for me," Pimentel said. "I just want to get an opportunity, it doesn't matter if I'm a starter or reliever or closer."

Manager Clint Hurdle said he will ease the 23-year-old right-hander, who joined the club Saturday, into a relief role.

Scouting report

  • Game:

    Pirates vs. Brewers, 8:10 p.m., Miller Park, Milwaukee.

  • TV, Radio:

    Root Sports, KDKA-FM (93.7).

  • Probable starters:

    RHP Gerrit Cole (6-7, 3.80) vs. RHP Yovani Gallardo (10-9, 4.39).

  • Key Matchup:

    The Pirates vs. a healthy Gallardo, who has a 0.93 ERA in three starts since coming off the DL.

  • Hidden stat:

    Gallardo's 11 career wins against the Pirates are second only to his 13 against the Astros.

"What you need to do for a guy like that, and we've had them in the past, just make sure he gets a clean inning, and you give him ample time to warm up," Hurdle said. "That's the biggest thing right now. We're not going to try to convert him into a late-inning reliever or somebody that's going to come in in the middle of an inning."

Pimentel could assume Jeanmar Gomez's long-relief role in September. Hurdle also said the Pirates might move Gomez to a late-inning relief role.

"This is a month where you could need multiple guys in a longer position," Hurdle said. "Our thought was before the St. Louis series to try to get Jeanmar into a more meaningful role in the back end of the bullpen. We will continue to look at that."

Pimentel joined the Pirates along with Mark Melancon, Ivan DeJesus Jr. and Jerry Sands from the Boston Red Sox in the offseason trade with the Boston Red Sox for closer Joel Hanrahan and infielder Brock Holt. Pimentel started 13 games in Class AA Altoona and 14 games for Class AAA Indianapolis this season. In Indianapolis, he cut his walk rate nearly in half and had a 3.13 ERA in 92 innings.

"He's big, he's strong, really good development this year at two different levels," Hurdle said. "He finished strong at the Triple-A level. The stuff can play. You look for the right opportunity to get him out there and see what he's capable of doing."

Pimentel throws a four-seam and two-seam fastball, a slider and a changeup. He said he focused on improving his fastball command, sometimes by practicing his motion without throwing a pitch.

"Sometimes, I got a little bit behind the count, but that happens," Pimentel said. "You have to come back, be positive and aggressive."

More good news for Grilli

Jason Grilli started Monday for Altoona and pitched one scoreless inning. He allowed one hit and struck out three, throwing 14 of 17 pitches for strikes in his rehab outing.

Grilli will rest today before meeting Class AAA Indianapolis on the road. He will pitch an inning Wednesday, this time coming out of the bullpen. Hurdle said Grilli does not have to throw consecutive days before returning.

"That probably won't be at the top of our list to get done," he said.

Rodriguez update

Wandy Rodriguez will throw a bullpen session today using all his pitches, Hurdle said. If that goes well, Rodriguez will pitch Friday for Indianapolis with a limit of three innings or 50 pitches.

Marte getting better, too

The Pirates hope to have outfielder Starling Marte swinging with two hands on the bat before leaving Milwaukee after the Wednesday night game.

"He's running the bases, tossing," Hurdle said. "One-hand swings."

Marte, who has a right hand contusion and sprained ligament near his ring finger, is eligible to come off the disabled list today.


Bill Brink: bbrink@post-gazette.com and on Twitter @BrinkPG.


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