PITTSBURGH -- Few ballplayers look more focused on the diamond than Pirates reliever Jared Hughes. With his piercing glare and rattlesnake-like intensity, Hughes comes off as a serious man, someone you wouldn't want to cross.But in reality, he's a 6-foot-7 sweetheart. In fact, that sentiment generally goes for the rest of the Pirates' bullpen, too. The unit that has been so critical in keeping the Bucs in games this season, whose pitchers have displayed nothing but concentration and poise in tight spot after tight spot, knows full well the importance of staying loose and having fun. "In the clubhouse, we listen to Pearl Jam and relax," Hughes said, referring to Jason Grilli's influence on the stereo. "Grilli always puts Pearl Jam on," closer Joel Hanrahan said. "I like to argue about Pearl Jam and tell him to mix it up a little bit." At 35, Grilli has also brought an additional veteran presence to the bullpen. While Hanrahan has been responsible for closing down the ninth inning, Grilli is making a name for himself as a setup man, shutting down hitters in the eighth. But on Sunday against the Royals, Grilli found himself in an unfamiliar situation. With Hanrahan having pitched three consecutive days, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle put Grilli in the closer's role. He came in to pitch the ninth, and with two on and two out, struck out Johnny Giavotella to nail down the win -- and the sweep.
|"Everybody wants to win. It's about winning, and we're going to do whatever it takes."|
|-- Jared Hughes|
Mark Emery is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.