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Pirates take Grilli out of closer role

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 20, 2014 at 8:09 pm •  Published: June 20, 2014

CHICAGO (AP) — Jason Grilli is off to a rough start for the Pittsburgh Pirates, and manager Clint Hurdle thinks he knows the best way to get the key reliever back on track.

Hurdle announced Friday that Mark Melancon would close games for the Pirates in place of Grilli, who has blown four save opportunities this year after converting 33 of 35 chances last season.

"There's no safety net for a closer. There never is," Hurdle said before Pittsburgh's 6-3 loss to the Chicago Cubs. "So he won't have to deal with that for a while, which I think will help."

Grilli pitched a scoreless eighth inning in the series opener at Wrigley Field. He struck out the first two batters, then walked John Baker and gave up a single to Junior Lake. Luis Valbuena flied out to right to end the inning.

Grilli said he felt better after making a minor adjustment to his mechanics. He declined to elaborate when asked about the change.

"It's always good when the ball comes out the way it's supposed to," he said. "It's one of those things where sometimes you get a little bit off kilter in the grind of the game. You get rid of what (the problem) was and fix it and get good results."

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