Around 1 a.m. ET, Sharpless received a phone call from the Pittsburgh club telling him to head to Cincinnati to join the Pirates.
"I figured I would be playing cards all night because I had just pitched 2 1/3 innings [Saturday] night," Sharpless said. "It really caught me off guard. I'm very fortunate to be here."
A trek that would have taken about nine hours by car took Sharpless almost that long by plane after Sharpless waited as the Pirates tried to find a flight for the reliever and figure out a way to gather his equipment from a clubhouse that had already been locked up for the night.
Sharpless got only about 45 minutes of sleep before catching a 6 a.m. ET flight to Cincinnati where he joined the Pirates before Sunday's afternoon game. And he did arrive empty-handed after the Indians were unable to find someone to retrieve his belongings from their clubhouse.
The 6-foot-5, 240-pound reliever scrounged up equipment and clothing from around the Pirates clubhouse, though he did run into a problem when he tried to find a pair of size 15 shoes. Lucky for him, Cincinnati's Aaron Harang loaned him an extra pair.
Sharpless nearly made the Pirates coming out of Spring Training after allowing two runs in 8 2/3 innings in eight spring games. But after Sharpless struggled with the command of his fastball, he started the season at Indianapolis.
He admitted to pressing during his Spring Training outings and to wearing every disappointing outing on his sleeve, even early on this season. But over the past two weeks, Sharpless believes he has learned how to better control his emotions from game to game.
"In my last four to six outings, I've felt as good as I have since last year," he said. "Prior to that, I was always thinking, 'I've got to do this. I've got to do this.' I think that's where I struggled a little bit."
Sharpless pitched in 16 games for the Indians this year and allowed nine earned runs in 27 1/3 innings of work. Last year, he joined the Pirates at the end of July and made 14 appearances, allowing two runs in 12 innings.
"He has a terrific breaking ball," Pirates manager Jim Tracy said. "The whole key will be if he can throw his fastball consistently enough for strikes. That would allow him to use his breaking ball in places where he could have some success."
Despite not having his own equipment and having pitched a few innings a night earlier, Sharpless said he will be ready to pitch Sunday if needed. Tracy agreed.
"I'm definitely good to go," said Sharpless, who threw 28 pitches for the Indians on Saturday. "When they phone rings, I'll be ready to go. I'll be pumped up."
In order to make room for Sharpless, the Pirates optioned reliever Brian Rogers back to Indianapolis. After joining the Pirates on Tuesday, Rogers made three appearances for the club, including one Saturday night when he allowed back-to-back ninth inning homers without recording an out.
Bullpen breather: After using five relievers to pitch 6 1/3 innings on Saturday night, Tracy is hopeful that Zach Duke, Sunday's starter, can limit his pitch count and give the Pirates bullpen some much-needed rest.
Tracy said that Matt Capps will not be available out of the bullpen since he has pitched 3 2/3 innings in the past four games. Similarly, Tracy hopes to limit the amount of work he'll ask of lefties John Grabow and Damaso Marte after each pitched at least an inning on Saturday.
Tracy said it is unlikely Marte or Grabow would be asked to pitch even as much as an inning on Sunday.
Minor League report: Triple-A pitcher Bryan Bullington had an encouraging outing for the Indians on Saturday after struggling in his three previous starts. Bullington threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings to pick up his seventh win of the season.
"I feel great," Bullington said after his start. "Every starting pitcher wants to throw well for six or seven innings, and I've been able to do that in the majority of my starts this season. I was able to command most of my pitches today, and feel like it was a pretty efficient start."
Bullington had allowed 14 runs in his previous 18 innings after finishing April with four wins and am impressive 1.17 ERA.
Bucs bits: Tracy had no further update on the status of Ryan Doumit for Sunday's game. Doumit was not in the lineup for the second straight day after being tested for a concussion, and it is unclear whether he will be able to pinch-hit if needed. ... Pitcher Masmumi Kuwata will be making his second extended Spring Training outing on Sunday in Bradenton, Fla. Kuwata has been sidelined with an ankle injury since Spring Training and will be reevaluated by the Pirates medical staff after Sunday's session. ... Gary Ruby of the Pirates development staff has resigned from his position as pitching coordinator due to personal reasons. Ruby was in his sixth season as pitching coordinator. General manager David Littlefield said the organization is still exploring options to determine who will fill the open position.
On deck: Fans will be treated to a Memorial Day matinee on Monday when the Pirates close out a four-game series against the Reds at 1:15 p.m. ET at Great American Ball Park. Ian Snell (4-3, 3.06 ERA) will take the mound for Pittsburgh against Reds right-hander Kyle Lohse (1-6, 5.31).