Pirates notebook: New Pirate Frieri expects improvement

Ernesto Frieri arrived in the Pirates clubhouse around 2 p.m. Saturday sure that the change of scenery from California to the banks of the Allegheny River will re-energize his career.

Frieri was acquired Friday in a trade with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for former closer Jason Grilli.

"You know what? Maybe this is going to be good for me because obviously I was struggling a little bit over there in the [American League] West," Frieri said. "Starting everything over, just trying to turn the page and starting a new one from today. I'm positive things are going to be good for me. I'm going to give everything I have and I'm 100 percent sure everything is going to work."

Manager Clint Hurdle said he plans to use Frieri as soon as the situation dictates, and did not rule out an appearance Saturday.

"I plan on getting him involved as soon as possible," Hurdle said. "This guy has every opportunity to be a back-end guy. He's been through similar situation of what Jason is experiencing this year. We might look for an opportunity if it presents itself earlier than later to get him in a non-leverage situation based on what we have available in the bullpen. He's here to pitch."

His strength is an explosive fastball, Hurdle said.

"Throws strikes for the most part. [His fastball is] one of the reasons he's given up some homers this year," Hurdle said. "Can spin the ball on occasion. When he's been good that's been it. It's an explosive fastball and a spin pitch. He can pitch up in the zone aggressively."

Frieri attributed a lot of his struggles to fastball location.

He gave up eight home runs in 33 innings, but struck out 38 and walked nine.

"I think that I've been a little bit missing the strike," Frieri said. "I've been throwing strikes, but not quality strikes. That's what I'm looking forward to [doing] better over here."

He said it has been a whirlwind, from when he learned about the trade to when he arrived in Pittsburgh to put on a Pirates uniform two hours before game time.

"When they told me I was traded I was like wow. I wasn't expecting that," Frieri said. "This is business. This is baseball. One day you're here, next day you're there. Now I'm wearing this uniform and I'm going to do my best for the Pirates. "

Cumpton optioned to AAA

Brandon Cumpton was the odd man out of the rotation when the Pirates activated Gerrit Cole from the disabled list. Cumpton was optioned to Class AAA Indianapolis.

"You don't handle days like today, you communicate with people," Hurdle said. "I shared with him the difference he's made while he's been here, the lifeline he was able to throw us, [with] the trio of pitchers we brought up"

Vance Worley has pitched well and is out of options and Jeff Locke, who was an All-Star in 2013, is also pitching well. Hurdle said Cumpton also was pitching well but has options left and will be needed again.

Improving in the field

Andrew McCutchen showcased another example of his development in the field Friday night, timing an athletic leap at the wall to catch Curtis Granderson's fly ball.

"It's a very athletic play. He's already moving on the crack of the bat because he gets to see location out of the pitchers hand," Hurdle said. "So he's already kind of moving that way. Then it's crack, it's a crossover step, it's run as fast as you can, and he does that really well. And then it's time your jump and he's very athletic."

Hurdle said McCutchen is a better fielder now than when he won a Gold Glove in 2012.

"I think initial breaks are better," Hurdle said. "I think routes have continued to improve and throwing arm has continued to show up and improve. Not just the accuracy, but the strength."

Rotation in order

Hurdle said the rotation after Edinson Volquez starts today will be: Locke Tuesday, then Charlie Morton, Worley, Cole and back to Volquez.

Jenn Menendez jmenendez@psot-gazette.com and Twitter @JennMenendez.

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