MILWAUKEE -- Jason Grilli rejoined to the Pirates Tuesday, but he will not immediately return to the closer's role after coming off the 15-day disabled list.
The Pirates activated Grilli before the game Tuesday night, but he was not available to pitch because he made a rehab outing Monday. Grilli went on the DL July 23 with a flexor strain in his right forearm.
Rather than make a final appearance with Class AAA Indianapolis today, as originally scheduled, Grilli and the Pirates decided he would return to the majors.
"If I want to get out big league hitters," Grilli said, "I got to face them."
Mark Melancon will remain the closer for now. Manager Clint Hurdle said he will bring Grilli in during situations with less pressure at first. Grilli will not pitch in consecutive games until he assembles at least three issue-free outings, Hurdle said, and the Pirates will cap Grilli's pitch count at about 25.
"I think now the challenge of major league hitters and the adrenaline, we'll have a much better feel," Hurdle said. "We eventually plan on transitioning him back to the closer's role."
Grilli said he did not expect to immediately retake the closer's role from Melancon, the former setup man who has eight saves since Grilli went on the DL.
"I'm OK with that," Grilli said. "I'm not here to interrupt these guys. Any one of us can close. Melancon's doing a hell of a job. I'm just here to help participate and pitch."
Grilli pitched a scoreless inning Monday to start the game for Class AA Altoona. He allowed one hit and struck out three batters, throwing 14 of 17 pitches for strikes.
"I think I showed that my arm is where it needs to be, and there's not really much to prove for myself," Grilli said. "I'm going to be honest with them. This is not a selfish move on my part. Obviously, I want to participate selfishly, but I'm not here to walk in and thump my chest and beat the door down."
The Pirates recalled four players Tuesday from Altoona: Starter Jeff Locke, outfielder Andrew Lambo, reliever Jared Hughes and catcher Tony Sanchez.
Locke will return to the rotation Saturday against the St. Louis Cardinals. He had his previous scheduled start skipped after a string of poor outings.
"I think this is more a pause and giving him a breather physically and mentally," Hurdle said.
"I think him getting the ball and what we see him do with the ball will let us know. He feels good, [pitching coach] Ray [Searage] said his work has been really good."
The players were optioned to Altoona rather than Indianapolis because Altoona's season ended Monday, meaning the players don't have to wait the required 10 days while on optional assignment before the Pirates can recall them.
Playoff schedule announced
The National League wild-card game, the first contest of the 2013 postseason, will take place Oct. 1, Major League Baseball announced Tuesday.
The Pirates entered their game last night with a one-game lead over the Cardinals and a 31/2-game lead over the Cincinnati Reds in the NL Central. If that lead holds, they would avoid the wild-card game and play in the division series, which begins Oct. 3.
Bill Brink: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @BrinkPG. First Published September 4, 2013 4:00 AM