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Neverauskas recalled, tosses perfect frame

Bucs option Brault; LeBlanc could return when rosters expand Sept. 1
MLB.com

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates put the Triple-A shuttle into motion and shuffled their bullpen again Saturday afternoon. Down went left-hander Steven Brault, and up came right-hander Dovydas Neverauskas.

Following a three-inning outing from starter Trevor Williams, Brault threw 64 pitches over four innings in Pittsburgh's loss on Friday. With Brault unavailable for at least three days, the Pirates again found themselves in need of a long reliever on Saturday.

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PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates put the Triple-A shuttle into motion and shuffled their bullpen again Saturday afternoon. Down went left-hander Steven Brault, and up came right-hander Dovydas Neverauskas.

Following a three-inning outing from starter Trevor Williams, Brault threw 64 pitches over four innings in Pittsburgh's loss on Friday. With Brault unavailable for at least three days, the Pirates again found themselves in need of a long reliever on Saturday.

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So, less than 24 hours after being recalled, Brault was optioned back to Triple-A Indianapolis and Neverauskas was summoned to take his place. Neverauskas went right to work, pitching a perfect sixth inning with one strikeout and two groundouts in the Pirates' 6-4 win over the Cardinals at PNC Park.

"What necessitates the moves is the condition of your staff, the innings you need," manager Clint Hurdle said. "This isn't the way we drew it up when we called up Steven. Nobody's plan was for Trevor to go three innings. … He would have stayed in and pitched if I would have let him."

Despite Brault's success in Triple-A this season, he hasn't been able to stick in the Majors, due mostly to circumstances beyond his control. The Pirates are content with their current rotation, so Brault's infrequent opportunities have come in the big league bullpen. In three appearances, he has allowed four runs over eight innings.

"Steven poured out what he had. He's not going to be able to pitch for three days," Hurdle said. "We need an available guy who can come in and give us multiple innings if need be."

The Bucs chose Neverauskas and recalled him for the fourth time this season. The 24-year-old right-hander has allowed three runs on 10 hits while striking out seven in nine innings over six appearances for the Pirates. His last big league stint was his best, as he pitched four scoreless innings over three appearances earlier this month.

"I'm sure he left with a lot of confidence," Hurdle said. "That confidence has carried over into the season."

Video: SD@PIT: LeBlanc gets out of trouble in the 7th

The Pirates can stay flexible with their final bullpen spot until Sept. 1, when Major League rosters expand from 25 to 40 players. Injured lefty Wade LeBlanc may be ready to return by then, adding another multiple-inning option to Pittsburgh's bullpen.

LeBlanc said he felt his left quad "grab" toward the end of a 45-pitch inning Thursday night. The veteran chalked it up to fatigue at the time, but he woke up sore the next morning. When he informed the training staff he likely would be unavailable for two or three days, they placed him on the disabled list.

This is LeBlanc's first trip to the disabled list in the Majors or Minors.

"I had family members ask what the DL is," LeBlanc said. "That's pretty good that you're 33 and you have to explain what the DL is."

Had LeBlanc not recorded the final out when he did, Hurdle revealed Saturday, super-utility man Sean Rodriguez would have entered the game to pitch. Rodriguez has played seven positions in his professional career, but he's never pitched or caught. If one more batter had reached safely against LeBlanc on Thursday, Rodriguez would have checked another spot off the list.

"He's not going to try to throw 100," Hurdle said. "He's just wired to follow that role."

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Steven Brault, Dovydas Neverauskas