Pirates notebook: Martin, Grilli get closer to return

Jason Grilli and Russell Martin, two integral players for the Pirates, are moving closer this week to returning from their injuries.

Grilli, the Pirates closer who went on the 15-day disabled list April 26 because of a left oblique strain, played catch before the game Monday for the third time.

“Felt great,” Grilli said. “I’m way ahead of where I want to be, right where I need to be.”

Grilli said he plans to play catch again today and throw off a mound — or at least the slope of the mound — Wednesday. Mark Melancon is the closer in Grilli’s absence, but he has not had many save opportunities.

Martin, who went on the 15-day DL April 26 because of a strained left hamstring, is tentatively scheduled to resume baseball activities Friday, manager Clint Hurdle said.

“He’s progressing,” Hurdle said. “He’s doing all his strength and conditioning work, cardio.”

Tony Sanchez has served as the starter in Martin’s absence. He was 5 for 19 in five starts in place of Martin before Monday, but has committed three errors in 10 starts, two of them on throws to first after strike threes in the dirt.

Grilli can return as early as today. Martin cannot come off the DL until Sunday.

Sadler sent down

The Pirates optioned right-hander Casey Sadler to Class AAA Indianapolis Monday to clear space for left-hander Jeff Locke, who was officially called up Monday before his spot start.

Sadler, 23, made two, two-inning relief outings for the Pirates. His two scoreless innings in his major league debut against the Toronto Blue Jays kept the game close, which mattered later when the Pirates came back and won.

Hurdle said Sadler will return to the Indianapolis rotation, where he had pitched before joining the Pirates.

Harrison stays in lineup

Hurdle put Josh Harrison in the leadoff spot and in right field for the third consecutive game Monday in an attempt to take advantage of Harrison’s performance in the previous two games.

Harrison, who has a career .282 on-base percentage and is traditionally a utility infielder, went 4 for 9 with a double and two triples in the final two games of the series against Toronto. He is playing right field in place of Travis Snider or Jose Tabata.

Harrison went 0 for 8 in his first 10 games this season. Each of those at-bats, however, came in the later innings when Harrison pinch-hit or entered on defense. Since his first hit April 17, Harrison is 9 for 25 (.360) with a .720 slugging percentage.

Giants summon RHP

The San Francisco Giants called up right-hander Jake Dunning Monday before a series against the Pirates at PNC Park.

Dunning joined the bullpen and took the roster spot of starter Matt Cain, who went on the 15-day DL Sunday because of a cut on his right index finger sustained while making a sandwich.

Cain was scheduled to start Monday against the Pirates. Right-hander Yusmeiro Petit started in his place.

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

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