Pirates notebook: Grilli's replacement able to reach 100 mph


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WASHINGTON -- Vic Black had time to send his father a quick text after he learned he was called up to the major leagues for the first time. But he didn't have time to elaborate.

"I'm going," Black sent his dad after Class AAA Indianapolis manager Dean Treanor told Black Tuesday he was heading to the major leagues.

"He texted me back, 'Going where?' because usually that means I'm going to lunch or something like that."

Black had just a few hours to pack and head to the airport and catch a flight for his new assignment.

Eventually, he was able to elaborate on his earlier message and process what this honor meant to him.

"This is something you only dream about," he said.

The Pirates selected Black with the 49th pick in the 2009 draft, their second selection in the first round after taking catcher Tony Sanchez with the fourth overall pick.

A hard-throwing right-hander, Black's fastball can clear 100 mph on the radar gun.

He had a 2.31 ERA in 29 appearances for Indianapolis this season and averages 13.1 strikeouts per nine innings.

He also had more than twice as many strikeouts (51) as hits allowed (20).

The Pirates called up Black Tuesday to take the place of closer Jason Grilli on the active roster after Grilli went on the disabled list with a right forearm injury.

A touch of history

Fifty-seven years ago today, Pirates legend Roberto Clemente performed one of the greatest feats in baseball history.

Down three runs with the bases loaded in the ninth at Forbes Field, Clemente drove a ball off the left-field light tower, blew through a stop sign from third-base coach Bobby Bragan and beat a relay throw from Ernie Banks as the Pirates beat the Chicago Cubs, 9-8.

It remains the only walk-off, inside-the-park grand slam in major league history.

"He slid, missed the plate, then reached back to rest his hand on the rubber with the ninth run in a victory as the crowd of 12,431 went goofy with excitement," wrote the Post-Gazette's veteran baseball writer Jack Hernon of Clemente's incredible feat.

Jim Johnston, who grew up in Hempfield, was 14 at the time and sat with his dad in the bleachers for the game.

"Both the left fielder and the center fielders overran the ball due to the crazy angle it took bouncing off the light stanchion and then hitting the wall at an angle that sent it toward center field," Johnston wrote in an email to the Post-Gazette recalling the anniversary. "To my dying day, I'll believe that Clemente was out at home, but, hey -- what ump's going to make that call?"

Johnston moved to Philadelphia and has lived there most of his life. He earned a Ph.D. in higher education before starting his own education-consulting company.

Spot start for Gomez?

The Pirates will keep their rotation in place this weekend against the Miami Marlins, meaning the St. Louis Cardinals will see one spot starter next week when they visit PNC Park to play five games against the Pirates in four days.

The Pirates and Cardinals will play a doubleheader Tuesday. It appears likely that reliever Jeanmar Gomez will start one of those games as the rest of the Pirates' rotation stays on a five-day schedule.

"We've got a plan that we wanted to put in place as we go against St. Louis," manager Clint Hurdle said. "We've got a guy in Jeanmar Gomez that's as good as any spot starter we could come up with."

In eight games as a starter this season, Gomez is 1-0 with a 2.80 ERA.

The Pirates have not officially named him a starter for next week.

No Grilli update

The Pirates had no update on Grilli. The team was "still in the process of gathering information," and would not say if Grilli had an MRI. The team said they expect to know more today.

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Michael Sanserino: msanserino@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1722 and Twitter @msanserino.


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