NEW YORK -- The day that the Pirates dealt Octavio Dotel to the Dodgers, manager John Russell promised to give both Joel Hanrahan and Evan Meek an opportunity to step into the closer's role during the final two months of the season.
Yet to this point, almost all of those ninth-inning chances have gone to Hanrahan. However, Russell clarified on Monday that will not be the case over these final three weeks.
"We were really going to get [rotating] into it more with Evan until he got injured," Russell said. "Unfortunately, you don't want to bring a guy back and throw him right into the closer's role. He will get hopefully a lot more opportunities between now and the end of the season."
Meek missed a week after he was struck in the right hand by a line drive on Aug. 29. Even before Meek went down, three of the four save opportunities post-Dotel had gone to Hanrahan, with Meek getting the fourth. There have been four save opportunities since. All four have gone Hanrahan's way, including a pair in the Pirates' recent weekend series.
Hanrahan has converted five of his seven opportunities.
While closing duties may be split more evenly as the season winds down, the Pirates are still considering both Meek and Hanrahan as candidates for the closer's job in 2011. Russell said further discussion about who might fit better in the role will wait until the offseason, as the bullpen's makeup becomes clearer.
Park ties record for wins by Asian-born hurler
NEW YORK -- It came with little fanfare in the U.S., but South Korean native Chan Ho Park made huge waves across the Pacific Ocean when he picked up a win in the Pirates' victory over Cincinnati on Sunday.
The win -- Park's first with the Pirates -- marked his 123rd since his Major League career began in 1994. That total matches Hideo Nomo for the most big league victories among all Asian-born players. Park had entered the year three wins shy of Nomo, but picked up two while with the Yankees.
"It's special," Park said of the personal milestone. "It's important to me and probably for most Koreans. I know there are people who have followed me since my first game here who are very happy."
Park added that he's received dozens of e-mails from fans in South Korea in the past 24 hours.
Park has had his eyes set on No. 123 for about three years now, he explained. He used the win total as motivation to continue his career after a trying 2007 season, in which he spent nearly the entire year in the Minors. At the end of '07, Park's career record sat at 113-88.
"I thought I was done," Park said. "I began to think about what would happen after baseball. I thought about going back to Korea and playing for a couple more years or stopping. Then at the end of the season, when I was thinking about it, someone told me that Nomo had 123.
"I thought if I had any chance to reach that, that should be my goal. I wasn't trying to be better than him. It just gave me a goal. That's why I kept trying. Having the goal made me want to pitch more games. I didn't give up."
Nomo, a native of Osaka, Japan, ended his big league career in 2008 with a 123-109 record over 12 seasons.
Park put himself in position to be used in close games with a string of strong outings since mid-August. Park has allowed just one earned run in his past 12 appearances (11 2/3 innings) and held hitters to a .182 batting average during that span.
This success comes after Park allowed six earned runs in his first five innings with the Pirates in early August.
"Hopefully, we can get him a few more [wins] so he can break [the record]," manager John Russell said. "That's really quite an accomplishment. I'm proud of him and what he's done."
Tabata, McCutchen given green light to steal
NEW YORK -- Simply put, John Russell wants Andrew McCutchen and Jose Tabata to run.
That was the message the Pittsburgh manager recently relayed to the top two hitters in his lineup. The intention, of course, is to push the pair to be more aggressive stealing bases for the remainder of this season so that both can be more of a threat on the basepaths in 2011.
"That's how you're going to learn," Russell said. "We can create a lot of really fun things with that. Once they start to get a taste of it -- Andrew is going to keep going, and so is Jose. When you pull off a couple double steals, now they know. They're going to be a pretty good tandem."
McCutchen and Tabata pulled off a successful double steal in Cincinnati on Saturday, with those stolen bases accounting for two of the five steals the two had in the three-game series.
Though he's just a little more than three months removed from making his Major League debut, Tabata has shown little hesitancy to take off. He's swiped 17 bases so far in 24 attempts.
McCutchen has stolen 31 -- five of which have come since Aug. 30 -- while being caught nine times. The Pittsburgh center fielder ranks fifth in the National League in steals.
Pirates claim reliever Leroux from Marlins
NEW YORK -- Right-hander Chris Leroux is expected to join the Pirates at Citi Field on Tuesday, one day after being claimed off waivers by the club. Leroux had recently been taken off Florida's 40-man roster.
The 26-year-old reliever has made 22 career appearances, 17 of which came with Florida this season. In his 18 innings with the Marlins, Leroux walked 11, allowed 24 hits and gave up 14 earned runs. He struck out 18.
Leroux began the season on the Major League roster, but a right elbow strain landed him on the disabled list in mid-May. When Leroux returned from the injury, he went to the Minors, where he pitched until being called up by the Marlins in early September.
A seventh-round Draft pick in 2005, Leroux had a 6.28 ERA at three Minor League levels this season. The majority of his time was spent with Triple-A New Orleans, where Leroux posted a 6.95 ERA in 21 games. He struck out 20 and walked seven in 22 innings. It was that strikeout rate, as well as Leroux's ability to induce ground balls, that piqued the Pirates' interest.
"He's a big physical right-hander with arm strength," general manager Neal Huntington said of Leroux, whose fastball sits in the low-to-mid 90s. "[He] could be a depth reliever for us, or if he clicks, [he] could be more. We thought it was a pretty reasonable chance to take on a young guy with a good arm and some upside."
Leroux has one option remaining, meaning that the Pirates have some time to see if he can develop into a reliable piece for the big league bullpen.
In order to make room for Leroux on the 40-man roster, the Pirates designated right-hander Brian Bass for assignment. In four appearances with Pittsburgh, Bass allowed 10 earned runs and walked 10 in 7 1/3 innings.
Double-A Altoona is scheduled to face the Trenton Thunder (New York Yankees affiliate) on Tuesday in the opening game of the Eastern League Championship Series. The best-of-five series begins with two home games for the Curve, with the remaining necessary games to be played in Trenton. Lefty Rudy Owens will take the mound for Altoona in Game 1. He will face Andy Pettitte, who is on a rehab stint with the Thunder. ... Released by the Pirates on Friday, infielder Aki Iwamura has signed with Oakland. Iwamura is expected to play third base for the A's while Kevin Kouzmanoff recovers from lower back pain. ... The Pirates entered Monday still looking for their first victory at Citi Field. The club went 0-3 during the ballpark's inaugural season. This is Pittsburgh's only visit to New York 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.