Crick returns to Pirates from injured list

Infielder Kramer optioned to Triple-A

April 16th, 2019

DETROIT -- The Pirates have welcomed back reliever following a short stint on the injured list.

Crick was activated from the 10-day injured list prior to Pittsburgh’s series opener Tuesday in Detroit after missing the last nine games due to triceps tightness in his throwing arm.

“It’s good to have him back,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “He’s been an integral part of our late-inning bullpen since the second week of the season last year.”

To make room for Crick, the Pirates optioned infielder Kevin Kramer to Triple-A Indianapolis.

Crick, 26, will help bolster the back of Pittsburgh’s bullpen, which has seen setup man Keone Kela and high-leverage reliever Richard Rodriguez struggle in April. Kela and Rodriguez have allowed a combined six home runs in their last 13 combined appearances.

“I’m just happy to take some of the workload off others,” Crick said. “People don’t have to be near as fine and think they have to do anything extra.”

Crick has appeared in two games this season, pitching two scoreless innings with three strikeouts. In 64 appearances last season, he posted a 2.39 ERA with 65 strikeouts over 60 1/3 innings.

“He was off to a pretty clean start until we had to shut him down,” Hurdle said. “So it’s very good to have him back.”

The move to send Kramer to Triple-A Indianapolis leaves the Bucs with only a three-man bench in Detroit.

Hurdle said the decision was made partly due to the fact that the designated-hitting rule will be in effect with the Pirates playing in an American League ballpark.

Pittsburgh’s shorthanded bullpen also played a role in the decision to carry 13 pitchers. Relievers Nick Burdi and Felipe Vazquez were both ruled out Tuesday after the duo combined to throw 64 pitches en route to three scoreless innings against the Nationals on Sunday.

“You’ve got a DH, you’ve got a bat in the lineup now, you don’t have to hit for the pitcher, and you’ve got two pitchers that aren’t available,” Hurdle said. “We’ve also got one day off, and we’ve got a series against San Francisco, who have multiple left-handed hitters we’re going to face now.

“It was the need of the ballclub versus the opportunity.”

Kramer, 25, has yet to make an appearance for the Pirates this season after being recalled from Indianapolis last week. He was called up to fill the spot vacated by Kevin Newman, who was placed on the injured list with a finger laceration.

“I called [Kramer] this morning. He came up to my room. We shared a conversation. I told him that this has nothing with what he did or didn’t do. He didn’t even have an opportunity to play,” Hurdle said. “Sometimes it works out when you do, sometimes it works out when you don’t.

“Now you have to go back and play, and we’ll see what happens next for you.”

Kramer, who made his MLB debut last September, hit .135 with four RBIs in 37 at-bats.

“These decisions are never easy,” Hurdle said. “They get called up because there’s a need. Now the need has changed.”