FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Jason Grilli can be credited with one of the two victories that made Italy's World Baseball Classic appearance historic. But he can't be blamed for the two wrenching defeats that sent the Italians home.
Grilli, who returned to the Pirates' camp on Saturday morning, had an adventurous save in the 6-5 opening win over Mexico that began Italy's advancement into the second round. But he never left the bullpen as Italy blew late leads against both the Dominican and Puerto Rico in Pool B play.
"Yeah, I was disappointed," Grilli said. "I thought I would've pitched in one of those two. I told [manager Marco Mazzieri] it did not have to be a save situation for him to use me. I thought I would've pitched in the eighth inning against Puerto Rico, with the heart of the order coming up -- [Carlos] Beltran and [Yadier] Molina, those are guys I've faced often and am very familiar with.
"But short of me picking up the phone and calling to say, 'Hey, I know these guys … .' [Mazzieri] apologized for not using me. I respect their decision. I'm still grateful for the experience. I couldn't have been happier doing it for the third time [Grilli was also on Italy's staff for the 2006 and '09 Classics]."
That save against Mexico came on March 7, and in the interim Grilli has only thrown on the side.
"So, I'd like to get reacquainted with facing some hitters," he said. "[The Classic] was a playoff atmosphere, but I don't look at [resuming Spring Training] as a letdown. I missed these guys. I guess I was saving my bullets for the bigger picture, closing games for the Pirates."
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.