Pirates notebook: Grilli goes on DL, but with roster wrinkle

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ST. LOUIS — Jason Grilli is headed for the disabled list, though the Pirates hit a snag Friday when they tried to designate the move.

The Pirates announced that Grilli went on the 15-day DL because of a strained left oblique, retroactive to Monday, and that Jared Hughes would be recalled from Class AAA Indianapolis to take Grilli’s spot. Later, they said the move violated Major League Baseball rules.

The team cannot back-date a DL stint and simultaneously recall a player who was on the active roster during that back-dated period, as Hughes was from Monday to Wednesday, when he joined the team after Wandy Rodriguez went on the DL. The Pirates played Friday one man short in the bullpen. When they do make the move official, they will have to call up somebody other than Hughes.

Grilli said he has not had an issue with his oblique in the past and that it occurred gradually.

“It’s a long season, you want to be precautionary,” Grilli said. “I’m only going to hurt myself and hurt the team if I can’t be 100 percent.”

Grilli, 37, has blown three saves in eight appearances, including two in consecutive games last weekend by allowing home runs to Milwaukee Brewers right fielder Ryan Braun. Asked if the oblique affected him during the weekend, Grilli said, “I guess you could say that.”

Grilli, unprompted, compared the oblique injury to the flexor strain in his forearm that kept him out for part of 2013, saying the oblique registered as a “2” in comparison to the forearm’s “10” in terms of how serious the injury was.

“I think I need, just probably, a few more days, would probably be the ideal time, but there’s no ‘few-day’ DL,” Grilli said.

Setup man Mark Melancon likely will take over the closer’s role in Grilli’s absence, but left-hander Tony Watson could close as well depending on the situation. Melancon saved 16 games in 2013, some while Grilli was on the DL and some in games when he was unavailable due to workload. Melancon has allowed two runs in 11 innings this season.

Transfer rule revised

Major League Baseball revised the interpretation of the “transfer rule,” changing it back to its original description after several incidents early this season called attention to the ordinance.

The expanded instant replay that went into effect this season caused the league to instruct umpires to award a catch only if the player successfully transferred the ball from his glove to his throwing hand.

Now it is a catch, “If the fielder had complete control over the ball in his glove, but drops the ball after intentionally opening his glove to make the transfer to his throwing hand,” MLB said in a statement. “There is no requirement that the fielder successfully remove the ball from his glove in order for it be ruled a catch.”

“It’s under my impression that it’s going to be a little less stringent than what it originally had been to begin the season,” Neil Walker said. “That’s nice to know.”

MLB informed teams of the rule change before this season, but that didn’t stop protests and arguments as it was enforced. It also confused baserunners because it applied to outfielders as well as infielders, so players ran the bases as if a ball were caught and found themselves thrown out when the ball was ruled a hit and not a catch.

Buried treasure

Russell Martin returned to the lineup after two days off. … Starling Marte got Friday off.


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

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