DETROIT -- Clay Holmes caught the 3 a.m. bus from Pirate City on Saturday. The Triple-A Indianapolis squad's flight from Tampa International Airport left at 5 a.m. He landed in Indianapolis, ate breakfast then retreated to his hotel room to take a nap. He was just taking off his suit
DETROIT -- Clay Holmes caught the 3 a.m. bus from Pirate City on Saturday. The Triple-A Indianapolis squad's flight from Tampa International Airport left at 5 a.m. He landed in Indianapolis, ate breakfast then retreated to his hotel room to take a nap. He was just taking off his suit when all of a sudden …
"Things changed," Holmes said. He got a call from Triple-A manager Brian Esposito.
"He told me to put the suit back on," Holmes said. "You're coming to Detroit, and you've got to catch another flight."
Holmes flew from Indianapolis to Detroit on Saturday night, got a good night's sleep and joined the Bucs at Comerica Park on Sunday. Rather than pitching a simulated game in Indianapolis, as he'd been scheduled to do, Holmes served as the 26th man on the Bucs' roster -- but did not get to pitch -- during their 8-6 win over the Tigers in the second half of Sunday's doubleheader.
This was surely not how Holmes, the Pirates' No. 19 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, envisioned his first call to the big leagues. A ninth-round Draft pick in 2011, Holmes worked his way through the system, only to be set back by Tommy John surgery, and finally pitched a full season in Triple-A last year.
Holmes went 10-5 with a 3.36 ERA in 112 2/3 innings over 25 games (24 starts) last season, establishing himself as one of Pittsburgh's top rotation-depth options. He will return to Indianapolis on Monday, but the Pirates encouraged him at the end of Spring Training to stay prepared in case he's needed in the Majors.
"Clint [Hurdle] talked about how he liked my mentality on the mound, kind of how I was just getting better each outing," Holmes said. "Neal [Huntington] mentioned trying to be as focused as I could on the things I could control, doing what I could do to be the first guy up. I hung on to that little hope, went down, kept taking care of my business and things worked out."
Most of the players slated to join Indianapolis' staff pitched two days ago in Minor League camp, Hurdle said. But Holmes was on turn to pitch Sunday, so it made sense to call him up to provide as many innings as possible considering the Pirates had to cover two games on Sunday.
"A number of other guys we had discussion about had just pitched. He had a spring where we saw some good things," Hurdle said. "Most importantly, he was available for large volume and we like him."
Around the horn
• Right-hander Joe Musgrove will make his Pirates debut on Thursday against the Reds at PNC Park, Huntington said. The Pirates had hoped to insert Musgrove into their rotation next weekend, but Sunday's doubleheader altered their rotation plans. Musgrove threw 92 pitches in six innings against the Pirates' Gulf Coast League squad on Saturday in Bradenton, Fla.
• Reliever A.J. Schugel is "building back up" after being shut down in late February due to right shoulder discomfort, Huntington said. The right-hander, who's out of Minor League options, is currently on the 10-day disabled list.
"We fully anticipate A.J. is going to help this club," Huntington said. "It's just that he needs to get through Spring Training again."
Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.