Ex-Pirate Jason Grilli stops by batting practice with Little League team
A familiar face stopped by the Pittsburgh Pirates’ batting practice Friday afternoon: former All-Star closer Jason Grilli,. who brought his Little League tournament team from Pine-Richland Baseball Softball Association to watch the action.
Grilli, who pitched for the Pirates from 2011-14 and compiled a 3.01 ERA and 47 saves in 168 appearances, is living outside Pittsburgh after retiring after the 2017 season.
The former reliever is coaching baseball for the first time and put together the tournament team of players who might not otherwise have made the cut for some of the other teams.
“These kids are good, too, and they need the experience,” he said. “I’m just trying to keep these kids playing baseball instead of video games.”
Grilli’s own 10-year-old son, who sports his father’s long locks, plays for the team, which is comprised of 15 players aged 8-10. The team competed in five tournaments, finishing its season in late July.
“We had a good summer,” Grilli said. “We didn’t win any trophies, but (it’s good) to see progression and the kids learning the game, to play the game the right way and love and respect it, just to give them some of the things that were taught to me and I can impart on them.”
Josh Harrison, Francisco Cervelli -- whom Grilli played with with the Italian team in the 2009 and 2013 World Baseball Classic -- and Keone Kela -- whom Grilli played with last season with the Texas Rangers -- were among the Pirates who mingled with the Little League team, signing autographs and posing for pictures.
“Pizza parties are a dime a dozen,” Grilli said. “I had an extra treat for them.”