5/28/2014 12:47 A.M. ET
Hurdle plans to ease Grilli back into closer's role
By Tim Healey / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- Eventually, manager Clint Hurdle says, Jason Grilli will be the Pirates' closer again. He just doesn't know when.
Grilli opened the season in that role, but since back-to-back blown saves and a month-long stint on the disabled list with a strained left oblique, Mark Melancon has been getting most of the save opportunities. Melancon closed out Pittsburgh's 5-3 win over the Mets on Monday for his 10th save of 2014.
Grilli, meanwhile, earned a save against the Nationals the day he came off the DL on May 23.
"I would like to get Jason out there another time in a different situation than we placed him in the first time out. Running him right back out to a save situation, it might not happen," Hurdle said before Tuesday's 4-2 loss to the Mets.
"I think we use our eyes on his next opportunity that he gets. Just look -- look at the pitch crispness. He's not going to be far away. But I would like to get him out there another time before we make any kind of statement or get the bullpen together and proclaim roles."
That opportunity came in the eighth inning Tuesday. After allowing a leadoff single to Ruben Tejada, Grilli struck out the next three batters -- Eric Campbell, Juan Lagares and Daniel Murphy -- swinging.
"[Russell Martin] said the ball was fresh," Hurdle said. "There was good finish to his fastball and good tilt to his breaking ball."
Re-installing Grilli into the ninth inning would make the bullpen deeper overall. Melancon can go back to setting up, and Hurdle said lefty Justin Wilson could be used when the team is tied or behind by a run or two.
"Our bullpen is moving toward as good a place as it's been all year," Hurdle said. "I do like my bullpen best with Grilli closing."
Banister, Pirates visit Replay Operations Center
NEW YORK -- With the Pirates in the Big Apple and Major League Baseball's Replay Operations Center in Manhattan, bench coach Jeff Banister was among the handful of Pirates personnel who paid the command center a visit Tuesday.
It was a very productive trip, according to manager Clint Hurdle, who was unable to attend.
"They took notes, they shared information," Hurdle said. "We had a bunch of questions, so it was a give-and-take opportunity. They've come back and relayed the information forward to me."
Among the topics of conversation was baseball's new ban on home-plate collisions. Monday, umpires reversed a call on a play in which the Mets' Juan Lagares was originally ruled out at home. Umpires called Lagares safe after deciding that catcher Russell Martin obstructed the plate illegally according to the new rules.
The infraction came when Martin originally set up straddling the plate. Even though Martin later moved off to the side -- and had only the lower half of his leg blocking the plate by the time Lagares arrived -- Lagares was automatically safe due to Martin's positioning when he first set up to receive the throw.
"As soon as that throw is let go and he's already straddling the plate, [the rule is broken]," Banister said. "If you're here [off to the side] and you move and it takes you there, you're still in good shape."
Another clarification Banister sought was how officials decide where to place the runners. He pointed to a recent play where Josh Harrison didn't catch a ball that an umpire originally said he did. After a review confirmed the ball was not caught, replay officials used multiple factors to decide where to place the runners, including each runner's position at the time and which element -- the umpire's signal, a base coach's signal, etc. -- caused the runners to stop.
Banister also came away with a greater understanding and appreciation of the work that goes on at the Replay Operations Center.
"It isn't one guy, but a collective effort to make sure everybody's on the same page," Banister said. "It was awesome. I enjoyed every minute of it."
Walker awarded double, RBI a week later
NEW YORK -- Maybe Neil Walker will sleep a little better now.
On Tuesday, Major League Baseball decided a ball he hit last Wednesday against the Orioles -- originally ruled a two-base error on first baseman Chris Davis -- was actually a hit.
That ruling gave Walker a double and an RBI.
The Pirates won the game, 9-8.
• Hurdle was blunt about the decision to keep righty Jared Hughes, who has Minor League options remaining, and designate righty Vin Mazzaro for assignment when the team called up Brandon Cumpton for Monday's start.
"He's pitching better," Hurdle said. "At this point in our season, we didn't feel comfortable enough sending down a guy that we think gives us a competitive advantage."
Hughes had a 2.40 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in 15 innings entering Tuesday. Mazzaro had a 3.48 ERA and 1.26 WHIP in 10 1/3 innings.
• Programming alert: Pedro Alvarez will be on "Off the Bat from the MLB Fan Cave" on MTV2 at 11 p.m. ET on Tuesday.
Tim Healey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.