5/21/2014 10:22 P.M. ET
Bucs celebrate 35th anniversary of '79 champs
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
PITTSBURGH -- They filed proudly out of the third-base dugout, serenaded by Sister Sledge's "We Are Family." They formed a golden line that spanned almost from third base to second. Some members of the 1979 Pirates still stood as tall and erect as ever, some were a bit bent by age -- but all waved their caps over wide smiles as Greg Brown introduced them and the crowd showered them with appreciative applause.
The Bucs' celebration of the 35th anniversary of their last World Series championship, prior to Wednesday night's reunion with the Baltimore Orioles team that was the vanquished opponent in 1979, wasn't elaborate.
It consisted mainly of those public introductions, and that was OK, because it was less a public bow than a chance to privately reminisce behind the scenes.
But before they could recede behind the curtain to exchange memories and life updates, they did accept the fans' salutes, so many of those '79 Bucs who helped transform Pittsburgh into the City of Champions.
Highlighted by the late Hall of Famer Willie Stargell's widow, Margaret, this lineup also included former players Dave Parker, Bill Madlock, Manny Sanguillen, Rennie Stennett, Phil Garner, Mike Easler, Tim Foli, Bruce Kison, Matt Alexander, Grant Jackson, Lee Lacy, Omar Moreno, Steve Nicosia, Ed Ott, Don Robinson, Jim Rooker and Kent Tekulve.
Also on hand for the program were coaches Al Monchak and Bob Skinner -- the left fielder on the '60 championship Bucs -- and long-time trainer Tony Bartirome.
Former All-Star Wilson to represent Bucs at Draft
PITTSBURGH -- Former All-Star shortstop Jack Wilson will be at the Pirates' table when the 2014 First-Year Player Draft kicks off on June 5.
Wilson, in only his second year of retirement following a 12-year career, was named on Wednesday one of 30 former playing greats to receive the honor of representing his big league alma mater at MLB Network headquarters for the Draft.
The 2014 Draft will take place on June 5-7, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB.com and MLB Network on Thursday, June 5, at 6 p.m. ET. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 7 p.m., with the top 74 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. MLB.com's exclusive coverage of the second and third days will begin with a live Draft show at 12:30 p.m. ET on June 6.
MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 100 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. Every selection will be tweeted live from @MLBDraftTracker, and you can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
Wilson earned All-Star laurels in 2004, in the middle of a season in which he hit .308 while collecting 201 hits that included the rare triple double: 41 doubles, 12 triples and 11 homers. Consequently, that same year he was awarded the Silver Slugger for shortstops.
On Opening Day, Wilson returned to PNC Park to represent center fielder Andrew McCutchen and third baseman Pedro Alvarez as they received their 2013 Silver Slugger Awards. On June 5, Wilson will represent the entire Pirates organization.
Grilli, Martin may avoid rehab assignments
PITTSBURGH -- Pirates reliever Jason Grilli and catcher Russell Martin, a battery in a simulated game Wednesday afternoon at PNC Park, may be days away from taking that act into a National League box score.
The closer and catcher both performed well in the dry run. Neither Grilli (strained left oblique) nor Martin (strained left hamstring) may see any rehab action prior to being activated from the disabled list.
"This was my rehab," Grilli said, beaming. "Facing Major League hitters gives you a true read. They may have been your teammates, but they're still big league hitters trying to square up against you."
"You don't want to put a guy back on your Major League roster and he's still kinda rehabbing," manager Clint Hurdle said. "So the test today, on the second of back-to-back days, was critical for us. The breaking ball was sharp again, the fastball velocity was good, he threw a ton of changeups. If there's no physical setback [Thursday], there's a real opportunity he could be joining us Saturday."
Martin went through the motions of actually catching for the first time since going on the DL on April 26, but that fact was almost incidental, given his intense work in physical therapy and at baseball skills.
"As you're catching, fatigue does come into play. How are you able to push through and continue to be mobile? He's such an athletic catcher," Hurdle said. "Through the work he's done, he feels better than he did coming into Spring Training. One of the scenarios we're definitely talking about is activating him without any rehab."
Bucs have potential rotation options at Triple-A
PITTSBURGH -- Two things to note about right-hander Brandon Cumpton:
• In both of his 2014 starts for the Pirates, he did something that has been elusive for the veteran members of the team's rotation: hold the opposition (the Reds, then the Orioles) scoreless through five innings.
• And since returning to Triple-A Indianapolis on May 3, the Pirates' No. 12 prospect has allowed three earned runs in three starts and 21 innings.
Overall, Cumpton's 4-1 record and 1.35 ERA make him one of the worthy candidates on the Triple-A level, while the Pirates' rotation struggles. Casey Sadler (5-1, 2.22 ERA), big league vet Vance Worley (1-1, 2.84 ERA in three starts) and Cumpton are waiting for a call if and when the Bucs decide a change is needed.
"We're well aware of what we've got developing [in Indianapolis] and the options we could have if we need to go there," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, who then made a case for all four of the wobbly starting quartet that collectively has a 1-16 record.
"[Francisco] Liriano ... I'm here to tell you we're not going to move him," Hurdle said. "As long as he's healthy, we'll keep feeding him the ball and hope he finds his way back. Wandy [Rodriguez] ... he's got to have an opportunity to pitch and show us what he can do.
"[Edinson] Volquez ... he's had control issues in the past," Hurdle continued, "and now we're saying, 'He's throwing too many strikes.' He's got to make better misses in the zone. Charlie [Morton] ... the big inning has gotten him, then five or six zeros show up."
The skipper did not need to defend Gerrit Cole, who has four of the entire rotation's five wins.
First number, last word
51: Pirates record for most RBIs in Interleague Play, by Brian Giles; Andrew McCutchen tied Giles with an RBI double in the first inning on Wednesday.
"The game is pretty simple, when you keep it that way. You have to meet the demands of the game. When you don't, you put yourself at the mercies of the game. I continue to tell them, 'You play the game, you don't work the game.'" -- Hurdle, on the hazards of trying too hard when the going gets tough.
• In Tuesday's game, the Bucs allowed four home runs in PNC Park for the second time since early August 2011, a span of 211 home games. The previous occurrence was by the Braves, who homered four times on April 18, 2013 -- in a 6-4 Braves win.
• One thing the Pirates have sustained is their reputation against left-handed starters. Problem is: They have faced only four of them, going 3-1 in those games.
The Bucs figure to see more southpaws on their upcoming road trip. Depending on the teams' rotations, the Mets have Jon Niese, the Dodgers have Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu, and the Padres have Robbie Erlin and Eric Stults.
• The Bucs began Wednesday's game having homered in five straight games, their longest power streak of the season.
• Give ESPN's Jayson Stark all the credit for this one: Chris Davis (three homers) and Ike Davis (one) on Tuesday night teamed for the second Davis four-homer game in history. In the first, Eric and Glenn Davis hit two each in the June 16, 1988 game between the Reds and the Astros.
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.