Ascanio returns to big leagues with flourish

Ascanio returns to big leagues with flourish

Ascanio returns to big leagues with flourish
MILWAUKEE -- Pirates right-hander Jose Ascanio barely had enough time on the mound to enjoy his long-awaited return, but that was a circumstance he manufactured for himself.

After throwing his first Major League pitch since August 2009 in the fifth inning of a 5-2 loss to the Brewers on Friday, Ascanio threw just 11 more -- including 10 strikes -- for a surgical 1-2-3 fifth inning. It was a landmark moment for a reliever making the long journey back from shoulder surgery.

Ascanio teamed with Daniel Moskos and Chris Resop for four scoreless innings in relief of James McDonald. Ascanio, who was recalled on Wednesday, impressed his manager during the outing.

"He was very efficient, very sharp," said Pirates skipper Clint Hurdle after the game. "It's nice to get Danny back out there, and Mosk got out of a bit of a wiggle. He had to get a good hitter out to finish that inning, and I thought Resop bounced back nicely. It was a little challenge in that inning to get Braun after the hit-and-run single put runners at first and third with one out. I was very pleased with the way the bullpen pitched."

The three relievers combined to allow zero runs on three hits. Moskos and Resop both stranded runners at third base, but there was never any threat against Ascanio, who struck out Casey McGehee and Corey Hart before inducing a groundout to short by Yuniesky Betancourt.

The 26-year-old Venezuelan had arthroscopic surgery performed on the shoulder by Dr. James Andrews in October 2009 after spending time on the disabled list for the final month and a half of the season. He missed all of 2010 while recovering.

Ascanio has appeared in 35 career big league games with Atlanta, Chicago and Pittsburgh.