LOS ANGELES -- The Bucs' bullpen was officially called to order on Thursday night, with manager Clint Hurdle hoping it is still in working order.
Jason Grilli was formally reinstated as the closer, following six ease-in days since his activation from the disabled list. Hence Mark Melancon also moved back home -- for him, the eighth inning -- with everyone else's relief roles similarly adjusted.
"He's ready to go," Hurdle said simply, of Grilli, "and everyone will move up accordingly. The biggest challenge will be to help Jason with his health -- this being his second injury."
Grilli sat out a month with a strained left oblique. He missed two months of the second half of the 2013 season with a right forearm strain.
Melancon converted 10 of 12 save opportunities in Grilli's absence and has hardly seen the last of his days working in the ninth inning. Team staff will be mindful enough of Grilli's workload to make back-to-back appearances uncommon, and three days in a row out of the question.
"We'll keep an eye on his pitches, and get together on what is a serviceable number for him to come back the next day," Hurdle said.
Since becoming the Bucs' closer at the start of last season, Grilli has been called on the day after making 20-plus pitches only once, April 12-13 last season. He has averaged just under 17 pitches in his first 11 appearances of this season.
Grilli worked the ninth inning for his sixth save in the Pirates' 6-3 in Thursday night's series opener at Dodger Stadium.
LA offers no respite for Bucs after rough trip to NYC
LOS ANGELES -- The Pirates couldn't get out of New York fast enough, after two games "we played as poorly as we had played all season," according to manager Clint Hurdle.
Potential problem is, they couldn't get far enough. The cross-country flight only brought them to Dodger Stadium, where they have won twice since 2007.
"The farther we got from New York, the better for me. We could have kept going," Hurdle said.
Until Honolulu gets a Major League franchise, this is as far west as you can go. So this is where the Bucs confront their first acid test of 2014 -- four games against the paradoxical yet loaded Dodgers, particularly on the starting-pitching end.
Already six games under .500, the Pirates will try to right themselves after two sloppy efforts at Citi Field, losses by 4-2 and 5-0 to the Mets.
"Walks put us in a hard spot early, defensively we had a couple of plays we didn't even come close to making, bad throws, balls we didn't catch," Hurdle enumerated. "In all facets, as bad as we've played. Now our feet are in L.A."
They're not going anywhere else soon, and Hurdle's message to the players went something like this:
"You can unpack your bags. We're gonna be here a while. Gotta figure some things out."
The Bucs won their first game here under Hurdle on May 9, 2011, but had dropped nine straight since entering the opener of this series. Overall, the Bucs had lost 17 of their last 19 at Dodger Stadium.
First number, last word
9: Consecutive games with a hit by Neil Walker (13-for-36) through Wednesday, his longest streak since a 17-gamer from June 27-July 17, 2012.
• "I'll share some thought about what happened, and how we move forward from what happened, as a community and as individuals. I got a little story already that I think will shed some light and encouragement on moving forward. I am really looking forward to it." -- Manager Clint Hurdle, on his upcoming commencement address at the June 5 graduation ceremonies of Franklin Regional High School, which was confirmed on Thursday.
• West Virginia's Reese McGuire extended his hitting streak to 18 games Thursday night, the longest by a member of the Bucs' Class A Advanced affiliate since Starling Marte clocked a 22-game streak in 2009.
• The Bucs entered Thursday night's game in another of their RISP funks, having gone 10-for-53 in their last six games with runners in scoring position.
• Right-hander Stolmy Pimentel (right shoulder inflammation) is throwing a simulated game this weekend in Bradenton, Fla.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.