Latest set of roster moves shore up Pirates' weary bullpen
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SAN DIEGO -- The Pirates kept the stream of fresh pitchers moving Tuesday when they recalled Daniel McCutchen from Class AAA Indianapolis, further strengthening a pitching staff that pitched 19 innings Sunday.
They also activated right-handed reliever Chad Qualls from the bereavement list. To make room for them, they optioned left-hander Justin Wilson and right-hander Kyle McPherson, who had joined the club Monday, to Indianapolis.
Wilson, manager Clint Hurdle said, will join the Indianapolis bullpen. Pirates management has talked with Wilson about working out of the bullpen to give Hurdle another left-handed reliever down the stretch.
Wilson had pitched out of the bullpen briefly last season, but started all 25 games he appeared in this season for Indianapolis.
Wilson pitched one inning of relief Monday and struck out three batters. McPherson pitched two scoreless innings.
"It was a good day for the organization for both those men to get on the mound," Hurdle said.
"They've put in a lot of hard work. To be able to come in and compete in a pennant race, and show up well, the mound poise, the presence, for them to throw their pitches with conviction and commitment, was very good to see."
Optioning Wilson Tuesday meant the Pirates can add him again in time to be eligible for a potential postseason roster, which locks Aug. 31.
Players must spend 10 days in the minors after they are optioned unless a member of the active roster goes on the disabled list.
McCutchen has appeared on the Pirates' roster previously this season but did not pitch in a game. He allowed 48 hits in 56 innings for Indianapolis and had a 1.11 walks-plus-hits per innings pitched. He has given up two earned runs in 13 innings in August, holding hitters to a .119 average and striking out 19 and walking one.
"I've been throwing my curveball a lot more," McCutchen said. "I'm throwing all my pitches for strikes."
Five of McCutchen's past 10 appearances have covered multiple innings, including four innings in his most recent outing Saturday.
"That's exactly why he is here, for some needed length if the occasion arises," Hurdle said. "We lost [Neil] Walker early in the game the other day. If something were to happen to [Tuesday starter] A.J. [Burnett], not necessarily pitching-wise -- you roll an ankle, you get with a line drive -- in the second inning, with the other options that we have, we didn't have much length available."
Qualls had been on the bereavement list because of an illness in the family.
Right-hander Jameson Taillon struck out six without walking a batter in his Class AA Altoona debut Tuesday. Taillon, the No. 2 overall draft pick in 2010, allowed four hits in five scoreless innings and threw 67 pitches.
He had a 3.82 ERA in 23 starts for high Class A Bradenton before his promotion.
Hurdle said the Pirates likely will return to a five-man bench when Jordy Mercer returns from paternity leave Friday, meaning they will remove a pitcher from the roster.
"That'll give Kevin [Correia] ample time down to more than likely go back to the bullpen," Hurdle said of Correia, who started the game Monday night after pitching in relief Sunday.
"We got a couple off days coming up, I don't see the necessity of us continuing with a six-man rotation.
First Published August 22, 2012 12:00 am