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Meek, Hanrahan in mix for closer's role

Meek, Hanrahan in mix for closer's role

ST. LOUIS -- The departure of right-hander Octavio Dotel, who was traded to the Dodgers prior to Saturday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, has left the Pirates without a defined closer. And according to manager John Russell, it might stay that way.

For now, Russell isn't committing to using Joel Hanrahan or Evan Meek as the team's primary closer, saying only that both could see some time in the role.

"We'll see," Russell said. "We've got two pretty good candidates. It gives us two pretty good options."

Hanrahan has previous experience as a closer, having filled the role for a short time with the Nationals. The right-hander has 14 career saves, all coming in late 2008 and early '09. This season, Hanrahan has consistently been used as Russell's eighth-inning option. In his past 42 appearances, Hanrahan has posted a 2.16 ERA and limited opponents to a .176 batting average.

While not lobbying for the closer's role, Hanrahan said he would embrace it if the Pirates lean in that direction.

"Obviously, the opportunity would be great," Hanrahan said. "But we've got two months left and I don't know what's going to happen. If the opportunity is there, I'd love to have the chance and try to get the spot. Dotel has been great for us this year. We're going to miss him."

Meek owns the lowest ERA of anyone in the Pirates' bullpen, with a 1.23 mark in 58 1/3 innings. Used primarily as the seventh-inning reliever, Meek picked up his first (and only) career save on April 29. He also represented the Pirates in the All-Star Game earlier this month.

"The only thing that you can really do is keep doing your job," said Meek when asked about the possibility of closing. "Whether it's the ninth inning or the eighth inning or stays the seventh inning, you still have to get three outs. I know that Joel and I would both like the opportunity and challenge to close. But we're not going to be selfish."

Shortly before leaving to join his new teammates in Los Angeles, Dotel offered his suggestion on a successor.

"I think Hanrahan is the guy that has to have the job," he said. "Nothing against Evan Meek -- he's a prospect here and has great stuff. But the way I see things, Hanrahan should be the closer."

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