PITTSBURGH -- While in the Indianapolis bullpen, working on regaining his 2010 National League All-Star form, Evan Meek stayed glued to the magic unfolding in Pittsburgh and daily thought, "Man, I wish I could be part of that." As of Saturday, he is. The Bucs recalled the 29-year-old reliever from Indianapolis to replace Juan Cruz, who went on the disabled list with inflammation in the right shoulder. Cruz's disablement is retroactive to July 18, the day after he issued two walks in a 2/3-inning outing in Denver. Cruz has dealt with discomfort in the shoulder since a pair of late-June outings in Philadelphia. The throbbing got worse during the All-Star break, and "got hot after the outing in Colorado," manager Clint Hurdle said.
"I hope that Cruz is okay, but it's great to be here to help any way I can," Meek said shortly after pulling into PNC Park from Toledo, where the Indians are in the midst of an International League series. "Whether it's eating innings or getting outs." Meek rejoins the Bucs two months after his most recent option to Triple-A, in mid-May. In two earlier stints with the Pirates this season, he allowed 13 hits and nine runs in 10 2/3 innings, an ERA of 7.59. Beset by multiple injuries last season, the righty is trying to recapture the effectiveness that made him an All-Star two years ago, when he posted a 2.14 ERA in 70 appearances. With the Indians, Meek went 3-2 with a 2.27 ERA in 27 games and 36 2/3 innings. He also picked up one save. "I feel like I am back to where I was in 2010," Meek said. "No pain. I feel good, throwing strikes, with better velocity. I'm raring to go." Hurdle plans to use Meek in front of eighth-inning setup man Jason Grilli. After earning a job as a non-roster invitee to Spring Training, Cruz was extremely effective as the Bucs' primary setup reliever the first couple months of the season. He had struggled of late, however, posting a 4.32 ERA in his last 10 outings. In 37 games overall, the veteran right-hander has a 2.61 ERA, with 32 strikeouts in 31 innings. "I felt something like tendinitis in the arm [after the Tuesday outing against the Rockies], so they gave me two days to see if it felt better," Cruz said. "It didn't feel that good, so we decided to shut down before it got worse."