Lineup card gets a makeover
PITTSBURGH – The Pittsburgh Pirates activated two veterans from the disablist on Friday, and manager Clint Hurdle shook up his batting order.
Catcher Russell Martin and closer Jason Grilli were back, with catcher Tony Sanchez heading back to Class AAA Indianapolis to open a roster spot.
Martin returned to the lineup for the first time since April 25. He was technically activated on Thursday, but had to sit out a one-game suspension. Martin was on the disabled list with a hamstring injury.
Grilli returns after missing time with a strained oblique. His last game was on April 20.
Neither player opted for a minor league rehab assignment.
Meanwhile, Hurdle decided to move Pedro Alvarez out of the cleanup spot. Ike Davis batted fourth and Alvarez dropped to sixth.
Hurdle said he discussed the possibility of a move with Alvarez over the weekend, and they talked again on Friday.
“It’s been seven weeks,” Hurdle said. “For the opportunites that have been there, and the production … they haven’t matched up. I feel like it’s time. We’ll see how it plays out.”
The Pirates have been trying to establish Alvarez as a cleanup hitter for three seasons, without much success. Alvarez tends to be more productive when he hits lower in the order.
Davis has been a hot hitter lately, batting over .400 in the last two weeks.
Martin was placed in the fifth spot, between Davis and Alvarez to break up the left-handed hitters. Starling Marte dropped to seventh.
The Pirates’ plan for Grilli was to ease him back into action without depending on him to close games immediately.
“We’re going to get Jason the ball a couple times and evaluate it each time,” Hurdle said before the game.
However, the Pirates were forced to pitch him in the ninth inning Friday against Washington because the Pirates had a short bullpen and ran through several of their fresh relievers.
Grilli earned his first save since April 14.
n Pitcher Stolmy Pimentel, who is on the disabled list, is headed to the team’s Florida training base in Bradenton to work. He is scheduled to pitch a simulated game today, and may pitch for the Class A Bradenton team before he comes back.
n Hurdle said he’s enjoying Josh Harrison’s play as much as the fans are. Harrison is a utility player, but he’s been playing right field lately and turning in some exceptional play. In addition to hitting, he’s made two excellent catches and run the bases well. He helped the Pirates steal a run by tagging from first base on a fly ball. That allowed him to score on a single.
Harrison made a leaping catch at the wall to preserve Friday’s 4-3 win over Washington.
“I’m not surprised when major league players have success,” Hurdle said. “I didn’t cookie cutter him on what he’s supposed to be. We had something in mind as far as how we planned to use him.
“But when a guy takes off and does this, he takes off and does this. Josh is playing well. He’s playing the game like he had a hand in inventing it. It’s a back yard mentality. It doesn’t get any better than that. Let it go, let him play. I’m just having a blast knowing how much work went into it for him, how patient he’s been, and then what he’s been able to do and the spark he’s given this club.”