BRADENTON, Fla. – The Pirates defused talk of a spring training showdown between Joel Hanrahan and Evan Meek by today naming Hanrahan the closer for the regular season.
Meek will be the primary right-handed setup man. Joe Beimel, who’s in camp as a non-roster invitee, has been assured a spot on the Opening Day roster as the lefty setup reliever.
“It was a decision they had to make,” Hanrahan said. “I didn’t sit there and talk to my mom, like, ‘I want to be the closer so bad.’ Everybody wants to be the closer. It’s not something you discuss with each other. We were waiting to see what was going to happen.”
Manager Clint Hurdle said a lot of internal discussion went into the selection of Hanrahan.
“I don’t think there was a bad choice,” Hurdle said. “But based on some experience that Joel has had in the past, just for the makeup of our ballclub, the continuity of the success he showed toward the end of last year, we’re going to start the season with Joel as our closer.”
Hanrahan, 29, was an on-again, off-again closer during his two-plus seasons with the Washington Nationals. He got six saves last year with the Pirates, giving him 20 in his career.
“Those last three outs are the most important outs in the game,” Hanrahan said. “You’ve got to go out there with the mindset of, ‘Let’s get it done and go home.’ I’m going to try to take the same approach I had when I pitched in the seventh and eighth innings.”
Over the winter, Hanrahan avoided arbitration by signing a one-year, $1.4 million contract.