Former pitcher continues professional career as closer in Pittsburgh
‘Once a Pirate, I’m a Pirate again’
Jason Grilli pitches for the Seton Hall Pirates. In 1997, Grilli was the fourth overall pick in the First-Year Player Draft. He was drafted by the Giants. Photo courtesy of Seton Hall Sports Information
Grilli made his major league debut in 2000. This season for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Grilli has converted 10-10 save opportunities. Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Pirates
Three outs. That is all former Seton Hall baseball player Jason Grilli needs to get, but he is doing it in the Major Leagues.
Now in his 16th season playing professional baseball, Grilli finds himself as the closer of the Pittsburgh Pirates after a career filled with trips up and down from the minors, role changes and a career threatening knee injury.
"It's a dream come true basically," Grilli said. "I know its clichÃ©, but I've never dreamed about doing anything but this ever since I was a little kid. To be able to experience what I've experienced so far and what I've accomplished so far, it's been journey."
That journey started at Seton Hall where he set the single season and career strikeout records while becoming the highest draft pick in school history when the San Francisco Giants selected him with the fourth pick in the 1997 First-Year Player Draft.
Despite being selected at the top of the draft, nothing came easy. After making his Major League debut in 2000, Grilli continued to move up and down between the big leagues and AAA ball, never making more than eight starts in the Major Leagues.
Before the 2005 season, he was released by the Chicago White Sox before being picked up by the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers however did not see Grilli as a starting pitcher and moved him to the bullpen.
"It was an adjustment, just like anything," Grilli said "I looked at it as I was pitching and knew I could pitch in the big leagues. I didn't want to be a defensive lineman, so to speak, of what I'm doing and I knew I could but I just never was given the opportunity of, here are 30 starts."
The 2006 season with the Tigers was Grilli's first season not playing in the minor leagues with him making 51 appearances for the club as they advanced to the World Series. In the World Series, Grilli made two appearances allowing only one walk in 1.2 innings pitched as the Tigers fell in five games.
Grilli stayed in the Big Leagues with the Colorado Rockies and Texas Rangers before he faced his biggest setback in 2010. During Spring Training, Grilli severely injured his knee doing drills which threatened his ability to walk, let alone play baseball.
"I said I'm making it back because I'm not done with baseball," Grilli said. "Baseball may say it's trying to weed me out as this game does but I'm not done with baseball and I'm going to take my time and turn in my jersey when I say it's time for me to do it and pass the baton to somebody else. At 36 I'm just getting started because I'm finally getting the chance."
Following a successful surgery, the Philadelphia Phillies signed him to a minor league contract before being released and signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Finishing last season with a 2.91 ERA and 90 strikeouts in 58.2 innings, the Pirates decided to move him to the closer role.
"It's a long time coming and probably somewhat overdue," Grilli said about getting the high profile role. "I've had some gravel road along the way and looking back at it to say where I am today it was well worth it. Would I've have liked it to come sooner, yeah."
As the closer this season Grilli has saved all 10 opportunities he has had while allowing only one run in 11 innings all while striking out 17.
"I can say it's all been worth it," Grilli said. "I'm relishing and putting everything into taking advantage of the opportunity that I've been given right now. Once a Pirate, I'm a Pirate again."
Stephen Valenti can be reached at email@example.com
Get Top Stories Delivered Weekly
From Around the Web
More thesetonian News Articles
Recent thesetonian News Articles
Discuss This Article
MOST POPULAR THESETONIAN
GET TOP STORIES DELIVERED WEEKLY
FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER
LATEST THESETONIAN NEWS
- Desi Rodriguez steps up with Hall's big men in trouble
- Pirates win physical battle in Whitehead's return
- Phone app tips parents off to class skips
- Shedding blue light on safety
- 'Stalking: Know it. Name it. Stop it.'
- Seton Hall community reacts to proposed medical school
- Faculty will meet to discuss proposed School of Communication and the Arts
RECENT THESETONIAN CLASSIFIEDS
FROM AROUND THE WEB
- LED Technology Helping People See The World in a Whole...
- Ice Dams Put Homes at Risk for Termites
- 5 Tips to Having a Happy, Healthy Heart
- What Does Million in IRS Budget Cuts Mean for Taxpayers?
- Workers Say a Good Cup of Coffee Can Make Entire Workday...
- Fresh Fruit Delivers Fun and Nutrition
- Say No to the Knife: Reduce the Likeliness Of Surgery...
- Give Your Kitchen a New Look With a Lighting Update
- Garden Project Spreads Its Roots in Urban Areas
- The Need for Voluntary Insurance Is on the Rise
COLLEGE PRESS RELEASES
- WHOLE YOU CHALLENGES THE HEALTHCARE INDUSTRY AND PUBLIC TO HELP FIND SOLUTIONS FOR THOSE WITH ORAL AND VISION LIMITATIONS
- 10 Reasons Why Cancun is the Spring Break Mecca of the World
- What's Next in Learning Spaces?
- carpooling, Europe's No. 1 ridesharing app, debuts in U.S. to college market
- PwC US Launches CareerAdvisor