PITTSBURGH -- Wednesday's post-game mood was as bittersweet as it gets for Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan. One minute, he was accepting congratulations for having saved Pittsburgh's 4-2 victory over Washington. The next, he was accepting condolences over the death of his beloved grandmother. On Thursday, Hanrahan went on the Bucs' Bereavement List. Recalled from Indianapolis to keep Hanrahan's bullpen seat warm until his expected Sunday return was Daniel McCutchen. McCutchen, who spent all of the 2011 season with the Pirates, returned to Indianapolis determined to "do what I need to do to get the call" when becoming one of the last camp cuts in Spring Training. In 11 games games with the Indians, he fashioned a 2.49 ERA and is on a current run of 9 1/3 scoreless innings.
McCutchen last pitched on Tuesday for one inning and figures to see immediate action, a fresh arm in a bullpen that logged eight innings Wednesday night in the wake of starter Erik Bedard's removal with back spasms after one inning. "McCutchen pitched some length at Triple-A, so he can give us multiple innings if we need them," manager Clint Hurdle said. "He went down in a great mindset. His velocity has picked up, his command has picked up. The reports I got on him are that all his pitches are sharpened up, and he is in a very competitive place right now." Upon being optioned, the 29-year-old right-hander and three-season veteran vowed to "get back up there and prove I'm a big-league pitcher, make people say, 'Why didn't they take this guy out of Spring Training?'" Upon the return of Hanrahan, who has converted six of seven save opportunities with a 4.22 ERA in 11 appearances, the Pirates will have to make a corresponding roster move. It will not have to involve McCutchen, who Thursday morning texted Indianapolis teammate and lefty prospect Daniel Moskos: "I might see you in a few days, or it might be 10 years." "I've seen enough moves to realize things don't always go the way they're planned," McCutchen said before taking PNC Park field for pre-game stretch. "I've come here to do what I can to help the team, and we'll see."
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.