Qualls winds up where he wanted to be all along
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CINCINNATI -- It took Chad Qualls longer than expected, but eventually he ended up where he wanted to be.
Qualls, the newest addition to the bullpen, said he wanted to sign with the Pirates this offseason out of all the teams that pursued him, but a deal never was reached. He signed with the Philadelphia Phillies for one year and $1,150,000.
"They've been making all the right moves to acquire better players," Qualls said of the Pirates. "They were winning last year. It's just a team that seems like it's on the rise. Obviously, it's a good park to pitch in, a lot better than Philly."
Qualls, 33, a right-hander who came from the New York Yankees in exchange for Casey McGehee, struggled in the first three months of the season in Philadelphia. He allowed 16 earned runs in 311/3 innings with the Phillies before they designated him for assignment June 28.
The Yankees acquired Qualls in a trade for cash July 1, and he had the chance to sit down with Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild and watch video.
"When I was in Philly, I was kind of getting away from staying closed, and he kind of spotted that," Qualls said. "It was nice to be able to sit down with someone and have them look at video and be able to kind of get me back on track to where I used to be. I cherished the time that I was there because he was able to help me out. I feel like I'm really going to throw the ball well in August and September."
Qualls allowed five earned runs in 71/3 innings while with the Yankees before the Pirates traded for him.
"I was shocked, honestly," he said. "I was sitting there watching the trade deadline tick down, eating some food or something, just wondering basically where [Ryan] Dempster was going.
"I knew [Alex Rodriguez] broke his hand, and Casey can go over there and fill that void. It made a lot of sense for them to pull the trigger. I get an opportunity to come over here, probably pitch a lot more."
Qualls joined a bullpen that ranked second in the major leagues in ERA entering a game Friday against the Cincinnati Reds, owners of the lowest bullpen ERA in baseball.
"That means they're just doing their job," Qualls said. "It's great, everyone's pulling for each other. When you're surrounded by positivity, you know you're going to succeed as well."
Reliever Juan Cruz, on the 15-day disabled list with shoulder inflammation, threw a 25-pitch simulated game Friday, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.
Cruz pitched to Alex Presley and Gaby Sanchez and threw breaking pitches in addition to his fastball. Hurdle said the Pirates will monitor his recovery the next two days and decide upon the next step when they return home.
Hurdle said the Pirates planned to skip at least one start in their rotation in the next three weeks, when they have a stretch of 20 games in 20 days.
"We'll see based on the first one if there's a need for a second one and how we handle that," Hurdle said.
He did not say who would be skipped or who would replace him.
First Published August 4, 2012 12:00 am