Hanrahan, Meek to split closing duties equally

Hanrahan, Meek to split closing duties equally

NEW YORK -- The day that the Pirates dealt Octavio Dotel to the Dodgers, manager John Russell promised to give both Joel Hanrahan and Evan Meek an opportunity to step into the closer's role during the final two months of the season.

Yet to this point, almost all of those ninth-inning chances have gone to Hanrahan. However, Russell clarified on Monday that will not be the case over these final three weeks.

"We were really going to get [rotating] into it more with Evan until he got injured," Russell said. "Unfortunately, you don't want to bring a guy back and throw him right into the closer's role. He will get hopefully a lot more opportunities between now and the end of the season."

Meek missed a week after he was struck in the right hand by a line drive on Aug. 29. Even before Meek went down, three of the four save opportunities post-Dotel had gone to Hanrahan, with Meek getting the fourth. There have been four save opportunities since. All four have gone Hanrahan's way, including a pair in the Pirates' recent weekend series.

Hanrahan has converted five of his seven opportunities.

While closing duties may be split more evenly as the season winds down, the Pirates are still considering both Meek and Hanrahan as candidates for the closer's job in 2011. Russell said further discussion about who might fit better in the role will wait until the offseason, as the bullpen's makeup becomes clearer.