Frieri excited for fresh start with Pirates

Frieri excited for fresh start with Pirates

PITTSBURGH -- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle gave Ernesto Frieri his characteristically boisterous greeting and immediately told his newest reliever, whose baggage hopefully did not include his Anaheim struggles, "Everything that happened in April, May, June -- dig a hole, put it in there, cover it up and let's go. You've got a brand new chalkboard. You're a Pirate."

To be correct, as Pittsburgh donned Negro League uniforms on Saturday as part of its Heritage Week Celebration, Hurdle should have told Frieri, "You're a Crawford today. But you'll be a Pirate tomorrow."

But the manager made his point: Frieri's 6.39 ERA and eight homers allowed in 31 innings were not part of the deal when the Pirates acquired him for Jason Grilli on Friday.

Frieri, a 28-year-old native of Colombia, sees it the same way.

"Maybe this is going to be good for me. I was struggling a bit over there, but starting everything new from today, I'm positive this will be good for me," said Frieri, enthusiastic if a little worn out from a morning travel that included a layover delay in Chicago. "I'll give it everything I have for the team, and I'm 100 percent sure it's going to work."

Hurdle plans to work Frieri into his bullpen rotation through some low-leverage situations at first -- he pitched a scoreless ninth on Saturday with Pittsburgh trailing by two runs -- and his performance will dictate whether he gets upgraded to the back of the 'pen.

"Fastball -- explosive," Hurdle described Frieri's approach. "He throws strikes for the most part, one reason he's given up some homers this year. He can pitch in the zone aggressively."

Frieri admitted not knowing too much about this year's edition of the Pirates until becoming one of them.

"I'm not going to lie to you," he said, "I looked at the standings [Friday] night. We're doing really good. We have a great team, hopefully I can help win some games."

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.