Jason Grilli aiming to rejoin Pirates in September

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Jason Grilli’s feel-good season took an unfortunate turn last month when he was diagnosed with a strained flexor muscle in his right forearm, but he’s hoping that the story has a happy ending.

James Santelli of Pirates Prospects was told by Pirates manager Clint Hurdle that Grilli is making “good progress” and will throw from a distance of 90-100 feet today and 120 feet when the team gets to San Diego. Michael Sanserino of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette adds that he could begin throwing from a slope or possibly the mound early next week. If all goes well, he could rejoin the Pirates around when rosters expand on September 1.

Grilli has enjoyed a renaissance late in his career, posting a 2.34 ERA, 30 saves and a 66/10 K/BB ratio over 42 1/3 innings this season. The 36-year-old was named to the National League All-Star team last month. While he has been missed in the Pirates’ bullpen, Mark Melancon has filled in nicely as the closer by going 5-for-6 in save opportunities.

Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez don’t have any interest in participating in the Home Run Derby, either

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Earlier, Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge more or less cemented what we already knew: that he doesn’t have any interest in defending his Home Run Derby title in July when the All-Star festivities are held at Nationals Park. It sounds like Red Sox outfielders Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez are on the same anti-Derby page.

When asked if he had any interested in participating in the Derby, Betts said (via Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe), “Hell no. I don’t hit home runs in BP. Can you imagine me going against Aaron Judge?” Betts was told Judge won’t be participating, then asked if that changed his mind. He said, “Hell no. I’m not that kind of hitter.”

Martinez won’t participate but for a different reason. He’s still upset he was passed over for inclusion in the Derby in 2015. Martinez said, “MLB didn’t want me. I figured I’d have the option of doing it and they said no. They had other guys they wanted, all these young guys. I was like, ‘Forget it. I’ll never do it.'”

Betts and Martinez have been two of baseball’s best hitters thus far. Betts entered Wednesday’s action batting .368/.439/.772 with an MLB-best 16 home runs along with 35 RBI, 49 runs scored, and 11 stolen bases. Martinez is hitting .343/.399/.674 with 15 home runs and 41 RBI.