Grilli resumes role as Pirates' closer
LOS ANGELES -- The Bucs' bullpen was officially called to order on Thursday night, with manager Clint Hurdle hoping it is still in working order.
Jason Grilli was formally reinstated as the closer, following six ease-in days since his activation from the disabled list. Hence Mark Melancon also moved back home -- for him, the eighth inning -- with everyone else's relief roles similarly adjusted.
"He's ready to go," Hurdle said simply, of Grilli, "and everyone will move up accordingly. The biggest challenge will be to help Jason with his health -- this being his second injury."
Grilli sat out a month with a strained left oblique. He missed two months of the second half of the 2013 season with a right forearm strain.
Melancon converted 10 of 12 save opportunities in Grilli's absence and has hardly seen the last of his days working in the ninth inning. Team staff will be mindful enough of Grilli's workload to make back-to-back appearances uncommon, and three days in a row out of the question.
"We'll keep an eye on his pitches, and get together on what is a serviceable number for him to come back the next day," Hurdle said.
Since becoming the Bucs' closer at the start of last season, Grilli has been called on the day after making 20-plus pitches only once, April 12-13 last season. He has averaged just under 17 pitches in his first 11 appearances of this season.
Grilli worked the ninth inning for his sixth save in the Pirates' 6-3 in Thursday night's series opener at Dodger Stadium.