05/05/12 11:19 PM ET
Hot Alvarez moved into cleanup spot
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
As closers fall, Hanrahan's value goes up
PITTSBURGH -- Major League closers are going down like shooting-gallery ducks, most with injury, some with ineffectiveness. When possible replacements for needy clubs are discussed, Joel Hanrahan's name is never far from the top of the list.So, has the Pirates closer given any thought as to how the attrition rate might affect his status? Whether chances of him being moved go up every time another closer goes down? The question hardly caught Hanrahan off-guard. "Some of my teammates have been giving me a hard time about it," Hanrahan said prior to earning his fifth save in Saturday's 3-2 victory over the Reds. As in, "Will you car fit in the garage in New York?" or "Do you know how far is it from Boston's Logan Airport to Fenway Park?" The Yankees' incomparable Mariano Rivera was the latest casualty, tearing the ACL in his right-knee in an outfield mishap on Thursday. The Red Sox's Andrew Bailey was the first to go down, undergoing surgery for a torn left-thumb ligament the day before the season opener last month. In-between, Drew Storen (Nationals), Ryan Madson (Reds), Brian Wilson (Giants), Kyle Farnsworth (Rays) and Joakim Soria (Royals) suffered long-term injuries. "I haven't really thought about it," said Hanrahan, who has converted 45 of 49 save opportunities since the start of the 2011 season. "My goal here is to go out and get through this season, and be here and help this team win. "I know why you'd ask that question. That's just the history we've had here. But last year kind of changed the history a little bit. We went out and got a couple of guys [outfielder Ryan Ludwick and first baseman Derrek Lee], instead of trading away guys like we had years before. "Hopefully times have changed here, and that will be again the case this year, because I really enjoy being here." Hanrahan agreed to a one-year, $4.1 million deal last winter to avoid salary arbitration. He will be eligible for free agency following the 2013 season.
Andrew McCutchen was back in the lineup after missing most of the previous three games while fighting stomach flu; he went 1-for-3, reaching base for the 21st time in 25 games this season.
Jason Grilli, whose strikeout of Brandon Phillips with two on and two out in the eighth may have been the biggest play of the game, now has 20 strikeouts in 11 innings.
Saturday night's crowd was considerably bigger than the 20,445 that attended Friday night's game, and Pirates manager Clint Hurdle was asked whether he was bothered by the notion that Zambelli Fireworks may be a bigger draw than the Bucs.
"I don't count people -- we win baseball games," Hurdle said. "I love our fan support." The Last Word: "Hey, it's Cinco de Mayo. It was either bootleg, or brainstorm." -- Hurdle, tongue-in-cheek, on his decision to insert Pedro Alvarez into the cleanup spot.
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.