Last night Jason Grilli gave up a game-tying homer against the Reds and today the Pirates announced that he’s been demoted from the closer role.
According to manager Clint Hurdle it’s not intended to be a permanent change, although surely that depends on how fill-in closer Mark Melancon fares in the role and on how Grilli bounces back with some middle relief work.
Melancon has been fantastic filling in as closer during Grilli’s injuries this season and last season, saving a total of 26 games with a 1.55 ERA in 104 innings, so the Pirates are in a very good situation in terms of having an extremely capable alternative.
Grilli had a sub-3.00 ERA for the Pirates in 2011, 2012, and 2013–including an All-Star appearance last year–but he’s allowed runs in three of his last four games and at age 37 it’s possible Hurdle and company think he might be slowing down overall.
Jeff Passan of ESPN is reporting that Pittsburgh Pirates closer Felipe Vázquez has been arrested and charged with one count of computer pornography, the solicitation of a child, and one count of providing obscene material to minors.
The details, from a report from the Lee County, Florida Sheriff’s Department are ugly.
According to authorities, Vázquez has allegedly been engaging in sexual activity with a now-15-year-old girl from the time she as 13 years-old. As recently as this July Vázquez allegedly sent the victim videos of him engaging in an unspecified sex act. Vázquez also allegedly sent the victim texts saying that they would meet for sex after the baseball season was over. It is unclear based on the minimal information currently available if the “sexual activity” referred to in the past involved physical activity or merely electronic communication.
The age of consent in the State of Florida is 18. While, like many states, Florida has “close-in-age” exceptions, they do not apply to the 28-year-old Vázquez and someone as young as his alleged victim.
Vázquez has been placed on administrative leave by Major League Baseball while the case is pending against him.
We will, without question, be following this story as it develops.