Breaking up the bullpen


ST. LOUIS — The Pirates’ bullpen, which was one of the most effective and experienced relief corps in the majors, now has a whole new look. Time will tell if that’s a good thing.

Closer Octavio Dotel, lefty Javier Lopez and righty D.J. Carrasco were traded today. Brendan Donnelly was released earlier this week.

“It’s very disappointing,” Evan Meek said. “Jeez, it’s frustrating. But it’s the business side of the game. All you can do is wish them the best. I’ll miss them. They were good guys.”

In a five-game stretch from July 25-30, the Pirates’ bullpen posted a 1.35 ERA. In 14 games since the All-Star break, the relievers had a collective 2.70 ERA and had held opponents to a .195 batting average.

“We had pride in our bullpen,” said Joel Hanrahan, who likely will become the new closer. “We were a close-knit group. We felt that we were one of the best (bullpens) in the league. It’s tough to see all the guys leave and you lose a lot of experience, but (GM) Neal (Huntington) has an idea of what he’s doing. We’ve got to continue to go out there and get people out.”

»»» Sean Gallagher will take Carrasco’s place as the long reliever. Steven Jackson also could get some multiple-inning outings. Wil Ledezma is the primary lefty. Right-hander James McDonald, acquired in the Dotel deal, will be join the bullpen for now, but could become a starter later. The Pirates still have to bring up another reliever, once the dust has settled from the trades.

»»» Dotel found out he’d been traded from teammate Lastings Milledge, who saw the news on the clubhouse television. As Dotel stood and watched his name crawl across the bottom of the TV screen, Milledge walked over and good-naturedly taunted him: “Watch out! I’ll see you next year!”

Dotel turned to Milledge and laughed. “Bring it,” Dotel said.

»»» When Ryan Church and Bobby Crosby were shipped to Arizona, first baseman Jeff Clement and shortstop Argenis Diaz were brought up from Indy.

Diaz will be a super-utility guy. “He can play anywhere in the infield,” manager John Russell said. “I’m sure he could play the outfield, too, if we needed him to. He’s a very good athlete.”

Clement, along with Ryan Doumit, will back up Garrett Jones at first. Mostly, Clement will be used as a lefty-bat off the bench.

“I know he’s done some pretty good things (at Indy) and I’m not saying he’s not going to play,” Russell said. “But realistically, with Jones and Ryan, I can’t sit here today and say Jeff’s going to play a ton.”