Grilli prepping for season at his own pace

Grilli prepping for season at his own pace

BRADENTON, Fla. -- When the Pirates travel to Tampa for a rematch with the Yankees on Thursday, Jason Grilli will remain at camp and throw batting practice to teammates who are also skipping the trip. One of these days, Grilli will make a game appearance -- when he feels it's time.

Taking advantage of a luxury he never had -- not having to scramble to make a team, thanks to a guaranteed contract -- the 37-year-old closer is on his own slow ramp to the season.

"For a reliever, Spring Training can be too long," Grilli said. "How many times do I have to go out there to pitch one inning? It's different for these young guys who want chances to show what they've got as they try to make the team.

"And it's not like I don't come to camp in shape. I work out hard all offseason, on my legs and core, which is where it all starts. The arm is just along for the ride. Why use up bullets before the season starts? I only need about seven games to be ready."

That is exactly what Grilli had a year ago -- including an appearance for Team Italy in the World Baseball Classic -- and went out of the chute strong, not allowing a run in his first 11 outings.

Grilli figures he will throw on the side at least twice more before surfacing in a Grapefruit League game. The best guess is Monday, when the Pirates host the Red Sox at McKechnie Field.

Tom Singer is a reporter for 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.