CHICAGO -- The Pirates placed right-hander Richard Rodriguez on the disabled list on Friday due to shoulder inflammation, and they recalled reliever Dovydas Neverauskas from Triple-A Indianapolis.Rodriguez has been one of the best pitchers in Pittsburgh's struggling bullpen since he was called up on April 13. The 28-year-old righty owns
CHICAGO -- The Pirates placed right-hander Richard Rodriguez on the disabled list on Friday due to shoulder inflammation, and they recalled reliever Dovydas Neverauskas from Triple-A Indianapolis.
Rodriguez has been one of the best pitchers in Pittsburgh's struggling bullpen since he was called up on April 13. The 28-year-old righty owns a 2.38 ERA with 33 strikeouts and only one unintentional walk in 22 2/3 innings. But he's worked more than manager Clint Hurdle typically permits, pitching in four of the Pirates past six games and warming up in the bullpen another day during that stretch.
Rodriguez last pitched on Wednesday, so his 10-day DL assignment is retroactive to Thursday. Hurdle said Rodriguez's shoulder flared up within the past two days, but the club's training staff is confident it won't be a lingering issue.
"Unfortunately, some of it was the collateral damage of other guys not being able to finish innings. Some of it's on me," Hurdle said. "I think we're being proactive. I think we can catch it in time where we can just settle him down, keep him off the hill for some days, keep him from throwing for a few days."
Neverauskas made the Pirates' Opening Day roster, but he struggled, posting a 10.80 ERA and 2.10 WHIP in seven appearances. The Bucs optioned him back to Triple-A on April 16, and he has pitched well since then. Over 17 appearances, Neverauskas recorded a 1.17 ERA while holding opponents to a .442 OPS and striking out 31 in 23 innings.
Neverauskas said he went down to the Minors with a focus on being more aggressive, getting ahead in counts with his fastball and then throwing his offspeed offerings for strikes instead of just relying on hitters to chase them out of the zone.
"I think it was a very valuable lesson for him. Hopefully, he'll be able to put it in play and make the most out of it. He went down there and did the work," Hurdle said. "He was steadfast with his approach. He was steadfast with the work done. Then the results started to happen, and he'd been on a nice roll."
In Friday's 3-1 loss, Neverauskas tossed two scoreless innings, striking out three. Hurdle was pleased to see Neverauskas throw his fastball down in the zone, attack hitters with both of his breaking pitches and work efficiently over multiple innings.
"Basically he was more or less the guy we saw when we called him up in '17," Hurdle said. "It was a very encouraging first outing back for him."
Around the horn
• Outfielder Austin Meadows and right-hander Nick Kingham made their first trip to Wrigley Field. Meadows started in right field on Friday, while Kingham is set to start opposite Jonathan Lester on Saturday afternoon.
"I'm very excited to be here. This is a cool moment," Kingham said. "A lot of big names have come through here. The fans are awesome -- they bring it every night, from what I can tell on TV. I'm super excited. Couldn't be more excited, honestly. But overall, it's just another game, I get that. It is what it is and I'm excited to experience it."
• The first batter Kingham sees on Saturday might be Kristopher Bryant, who hit leadoff on Friday for the first time in his career. Kingham and Bryant, both Las Vegas natives, aren't particularly close, but they did both play in Vegas' Peccole Little League and on the same Little League All-Star team.
• The Pirates have not yet finalized a plan for Ivan Nova's return to the rotation, but Hurdle said Nova felt good after throwing a bullpen session in Pittsburgh on Thursday. Nova has been sidelined since May 24 due to a sprained right ring finger.
• David Freese started at first base and went 1-for-4, while Meadows (2-for-4) got the nod in right field against left-hander Mike Montgomery on Friday. Gregory Polanco entered Friday batting .167 with a .663 OPS against lefties this season, while first baseman Josh Bell is 1-for-20 in seven games this month. Bell pinch-hit in the seventh for pitcher Edgar Santana and grounded out.
Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.