Ohlendorf's season officially over
Right-hander has earned rotation spot for 2010, GM says
PITTSBURGH -- General manager Neal Huntington confirmed on Sunday that right-hander Ross Ohlendorf will not pitch again this season.
"Ross has had a tremendous year this year," Huntington said. "We are thrilled with his progress. We felt like given his pitch count for this year, given his innings threshold for this year, that we pushed it about as far as we felt we should push it. It was an appropriate time to call it a season."
Manager John Russell informed Ohlendorf on Sunday morning of the decision to shut him down.
In what was his first full season as a Major League starter, Ohlendorf finishes the season 11-10 with a 3.92 ERA in 29 starts. Those 11 wins are currently a staff high, though Zach Duke (10-14) has a chance to match or pass Ohlendorf in that category before the season ends. Duke is likely to make three more starts.
With his seven-inning start on Saturday, Ohlendorf pushed his innings total for the season up to 176 2/3. That was an increase of 45 innings for Ohlendorf from last year to 2009, and the Pirates feared that increasing that difference any more would have put Ohlendorf at larger risk for injury next year.
The expectation now is that Ohlendorf will not face a similar late-season shutdown in the future.
"We're looking forward to working with him to put him in position to where he can be a 200-plus inning starter for many, many years to come," Huntington said.
Ohlendorf finished his year with a 2.83 ERA in 11 starts following the All-Star break. Though the offense struggled, only supporting him enough that he would earn four wins, Ohlendorf made eight quality starts during that span. He limited batters to a .234 average.
"I feel like I've shown that I can be effective here," Ohlendorf said after his last start. "But that certainly doesn't mean I don't need to keep getting better. I have to make sure that I continue to work on things to stay where I am and keep doing better."
After coming into Spring Training this year in competition to earn a rotation spot, Ohlendorf will head to Bradenton, Fla., next season in a different position. Huntington said on Sunday that Ohlendorf, Duke and Paul Maholm will all head into the 2010 season with a rotation spot already locked up barring any injury or offseason conditioning issue.
With Ohlendorf's spot in the rotation set to come up two more times before the season ends, Huntington said that the club will likely piggyback various multiple-inning relievers to get through those starts. Virgil Vasquez and Eric Hacker, both starters all season, and Jeff Karstens would be options to fill this sort of role.
"It's an opportunity for guys to step forward," Huntington said, noting that each of three could be competing for a final rotation spot next year.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.