LOS ANGELES -- Though Octavio Dotel has had his share of issues through the Pirates' first 21 games, manager John Russell will continue to hand the ball to him with the game on the line in the ninth. Dotel's only hope is that that ball will begin being handed to him with more consistency.
The closer blew his second save of the season on Wednesday when he allowed the Brewers to score once in the bottom of the 10th. It marked the sixth straight appearance in which Dotel has allowed an opponent to score. And in a bigger picture, opponents are batting .357 against Dotel this season.
When asked about his recent struggles, Dotel reiterated that physically, there are no issues. The problem, he believes, has been the lack of consistent work in save situations.
"I've got everything I need to have," Dotel said. "I just want more activity. That gives me better command of my pitches."
Dotel has made nine season appearances, but Wednesday's was the first that had any bearing on the game's outcome since April 18. Prior to that, Russell had no choice but to send Dotel out in two blowout losses to Milwaukee simply to get the closer some game work. Dotel struggled immensely in both, allowing six earned runs and eight hits in 1 1/3 innings.
"I understand that I have to get my work done, but I'll be honest, I hate that," Dotel said of the inconsequential appearances. "I don't have the same intensity. I don't have the same adrenaline. I don't have the same feeling for the game. I shouldn't be that way because this is my job. I've got to come and do job."
Though the Pirates have two hard throwing right-handers -- Joel Hanrahan and Evan Meek -- who are seen as potential closers down the road, the Pirates aren't abandoning their plan to use Dotel as the team's closer.
Meek did get the call to close on Thursday -- and succeeded -- though Russell emphasized afterward that his decision was dictated by the need to give Dotel a day off. It is not the start of a closer controversy.
"We just can't keep running him out there day after day," Russell said. "We have to make sure to protect him. With what we had [on Thursday], Evan was the freshest guy we had in the situation."
Should a save situation arise on Friday, Dotel will get the call.
"Don't panic with me," Dotel said. "I'm going to do my job. I'm going to do what I'm supposed to do. I always earn my money. It's just been a little bumpy in April."
Morton will not make major changes
LOS ANGELES -- Charlie Morton will take the mound at Dodger Stadium on Friday night with a record and ERA that he knows has cast skepticism about his abilities. What he won't do, though, is come out having made wholesale changes to his mechanics or approach.
As Morton noted on Thursday, if there were one particular issue to blame for his 0-4 record and 16.20 ERA, then that would be targeted and taken care of. Rather, his season struggles stem from a bad pitch selection here or lack of execution there or poor aggressiveness at other times.
The key in finding consistency in all of those areas, Morton insists, is being strong mentally.
"You can go out there and not have your best stuff, be a little off on your mechanics, but if what's between your ears is working, you'll be able to get through the game," Morton said. "My attitude just has to be aggressive. The biggest thing is the mental side.
"It's like a roller coaster. You throw and then you sit at your locker and think about it. All you know is you failed at what you did. But then you go through your work, throw your side, filter all the information and go into your next start."
Morton continues to have the management's backing, despite the fact that he has been able to finish four innings in just one of his four starts this season. The right-hander was away from the team earlier this week because of a death in the family, but he returned in time to pitch his normally scheduled bullpen session on Wednesday.
"I know there are doubters outside the organization," he said. "I know that. The support management has shown is unbelievable. Their confidence is unbelievable. They're treating it like this is a period that's rough and I'm going to get through it. It's a speed bump and I'm going to get over it."
Hart placed on Minor League DL
LOS ANGELES -- Right-hander Kevin Hart has been placed on the Minor League disabled list with what the Pirates believe to be right biceps tendinitis. The organization is expected to know more details -- including an estimate as to how much time Hart might miss -- after Hart is examined on Friday.
With Hart out, the Pirates now have one fewer starting candidate should they continue to need spot starters in the big league rotation. Hart was likely the next in line for a callup, though he has continued to battle through command issues in Triple-A this season.
In his five appearances for Indianapolis, Hart has allowed 13 earned runs on 18 hits in 17 1/3 innings. He has walked 11 and struck out 19. Efficiency has continued to be an issue, much as it was this spring when Hart lost out on a chance to earn the fifth spot in the Pirates' rotation.
With Hart on the DL, right-hander Michael Dubee was promoted from Double-A to serve as an extra arm in Indianapolis' bullpen. In 9 2/3 innings with Altoona, Dubee allowed just one run on seven hits.
Sign up to meet players at charity bowling event
LOS ANGELES -- Jack Wilson may no longer be in Pittsburgh, but the "Bowling with the Bucs" fund-raiser event that the former Pirates shortstop established will go on. Zach Duke and his wife, Kristin, will take over as hosts for the sixth annual bowling tournament, at the AMF Noble Manor Lanes in Crafton, Pa., from 6-9 p.m. ET on Sunday, May 9.
For a $150 donation, fans can bowl alongside various Pirates players and celebrities. A $100 donation is asked of anyone who wishes to watch the tournament. In addition to the bowling and free food, all participants will receive a commemorative bowling shirt, autograph opportunities and the chance to bid in a silent auction.
There are 100 bowling spots available and a limited number of spectators will be permitted. Fans interested in participating can contact Pirates Charities development associate Lindsay Going at 412-325-4776 or at email@example.com.
All monies raised from the event will go to Pirates Charities, the philanthropic arm of the organization. Pirates Charities will donate half of the proceeds to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Last year, over $21,000 was raised from this event.
LOS ANGELES -- Righty Ross Ohlendorf (back spasms) has left the team to go to Bradenton, Fla., where he will throw 45-50 pitches in an extended spring training game on Friday. This will mark Ohlendorf's first game action since his April 7 start. ... Chris Jakubauskas has returned to Pittsburgh, where his post-concussion symptoms will continue to be monitored. Jakubauskas, who was struck in the back of the head by a line drive last Saturday, is still not free to begin any baseball activities. ... Right-hander Daniel McCutchen made his first start with Triple-A Indianapolis on Thursday and allowed just one run on five hits in seven innings. McCutchen was sent down to the Minors on Sunday after struggling in his three big league starts. ... On Thursday, Lastings Milledge became the fourth leadoff hitter manager John Russell has used this season. Milledge had previously hit leadoff five other times in his career. The Pirates have now used 20 different lineups in 22 games this season.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.