Hanrahan excited about new opportunity

Hanrahan excited about new opportunity

PITTSBURGH -- After arriving at PNC Park on Wednesday just a little more than three hours before the scheduled first pitch of a game the Bucs would lose, 4-1, newly acquired right-hander Joel Hanrahan was greeted with a bear hug from outfielder Delwyn Young.

Seeing some familiar faces (Hanrahan and Young both came up through the Dodgers organization) seemed to ease Hanrahan initially, and the Pirates hope that the change in scenery will do that in a broader sense for him as well.

Acquired as a part of a four-player trade on Tuesday, Hanrahan left a Nationals team that had given him his first opportunity to pitch in the big leagues. He also left behind, or so he hopes, some disappointing season results. In 34 season appearances, he had a 7.71 ERA, with 35 strikeouts and 14 walks. Twice he had been named the team's closer, only to be removed from the post both times because of command issues.

"I'm excited for a change and a new opportunity, and it feels good knowing that someone was interested in me," Hanrahan said. "It's been a rough first half so far. I had some tough breaks. I'm not making the best pitches at some times. Hopefully, with the change of scenery, change of luck might come, too. I'm looking forward to going out there and helping this team win."

Manager John Russell plans to use Hanrahan in middle relief, similar to the role that right-hander Steven Jackson has played. Russell wasted no time in doing so, either, giving Hanrahan the ball in the seventh on Wednesday. Hanrahan allowed one hit and struck out one while pitching a scoreless inning.

The Pirates see this role as a way for Hanrahan to slowly work out his command issues and eventually transition back into a late-inning pitcher. Hanrahan sees it as an opportunity to regain his confidence in a less-pressurized role.

"I think that will help, to go out there and not put too much pressure on myself to try and be back in that closer role," he said. "Whenever they call my name, I'm going to go out there and be ready to give my best."

The balance of Russell's bullpen has changed somewhat with the departure of left-hander Sean Burnett and the addition of a righty in his place. Without Burnett the seven-pitcher bullpen has just one lefty reliever, John Grabow. Regardless, Russell has plenty of options when it comes to retiring left-handed hitters.

"I don't think it's going to be as big of a loss as people might think, not having that extra left-hander," Russell said. "We've tried to have our bullpen like that, to be a diversified kind of bullpen. We don't have a situational guy. We need our guys to be able to pitch a full inning, and that's against lefty and righty."

Jesse Chavez actually has had better success against left-handed hitters (.185 average against) than he has right-handed ones (.286). Similarly, Evan Meek and Jeff Karstens have been quite effective against left-handed hitters this season, keeping them to .205 and .241 batting averages, respectively.

Pitching matchup
PIT: LHP Paul Maholm (5-4, 4.35 ERA)
After laboring through much of June, Maholm closed it out with a bang in his final start of the month. Not only did he snap a personal two-game losing streak, he did it with the benefit of his sinker, a pitch that had eluded him at times. He was also notably efficient, as he typically is when he's at his sharpest. He is 3-2 with a 3.65 ERA in six career starts against the Mets.

NYM: RHP Tim Redding (1-3, 6.35 ERA)
Things fell apart for Redding in a hurry on Saturday against the Yankees. After giving up two hits in the first five innings, he allowed four runs on four hits on four consecutive pitches in the sixth, leading to the Yankees' 5-0 win. He is 2-2 with a 3.79 ERA in 11 career starts against the Pirates, including an 0-1 mark with a 6.38 ERA in five starts at PNC Park. Pirates shortstop Jack Wilson owns a .385 career average against Redding in 26 at-bats. Redding is glad to finish June -- historically his worst month -- and enter July, when he's 9-11 with a 4.91 ERA for his career.

Bucs bits
The Pirates on Wednesday released outfielder Craig Monroe, who had been designated for assignment last month after not hustling during a June 16 loss to Minnesota. ... The Pirates have come to agreements with three more players from their First-Year Player Draft class, including third-round selection Evan Chambers. Chambers, a 20-year-old center fielder out of Hillsborough (Fla.) Community College, has been assigned to short-season State College. The Pirates also inked shortstop John Gourley (13th round) and right-hander Ryan Beckham (18th round). ... The Pirates' Double-A team will be represented by three players in the upcoming Eastern League All-Star Game. Left-hander and 2007 first-round pick Daniel Moskos, shortstop Brian Friday and first baseman/outfielder Jason Delaney have all been named to the team. ... Andy LaRoche is expected to return to the lineup on Thursday after being given the day off on Wednesday.

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Up next
• Friday: Pirates (Charlie Morton, 0-1, 4.09) at Marlins (Chris Volstad, 5-7, 4.63), 6:10 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Pirates (Zach Duke, 8-6, 3.13) at Marlins (Andrew Miller, 2-4, 4.45), 6:10 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Pirates (Ross Ohlendorf, 7-6, 4.41) at Marlins (Ricky Nolasco, 5-6, 5.99), 1:10 p.m. ET

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.