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Pirates still unsure of Grilli's return date

The SportsXchange

PITTSBURGH -- Right-handed reliever Jason Grilli took another step forward Sunday night when he threw 25 pitches off a mound before the Pittsburgh Pirates' 6-5 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Pirates don't yet have a timetable for when Grilli, who has been out since April 21 with a strained left oblique, will be activated from the 15-day disabled list or even when he might start a minor league rehab assignment. Furthermore, manager Clint Hurdle isn't ready to say if Grilli would be the closer upon his return.

Grilli has converted just four or seven saves opportunities this season after going 33-for-35 last year. He is also 0-1 in eight games with a 4.50 ERA.

"I hate to take a guy away from his job because of an injury," Hurdle said. "We want to make sure he's as sharp as he can be, so we'll see."

Setup man Mark Melancon moved into the closer's role when Grilli was injured, and he has converted four of five save chances. Melancon had 16 saves last season while filling in for five weeks while Grilli was on the DL with a strained forearm.

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