Pregame: Crotta on DL, Ascanio activated


Right-hander Mike Crotta was the feel-good story of the Pirates’ spring training camp, a rookie who seemingly came out of nowhere to win a spot on the team. He made his big league debut in the third game of the season, and tossed a perfect inning at Wrigley Field.

However, Crotta’s story soured over the past couple of weeks. Wednesday, the Pirates put the slumping reliever on the disabled list with elbow inflammation. His spot on the roster will be filled by righty Jose Ascanio, who was activated off the DL.

Crotta’s outing Tuesday was brutal — he faced four batters, all of whom reached base via three singles and a walk, and did not get an out. He was charged with four runs, shooting his ERA up to 9.28. He’s allowed at least one hit in each of his past 11 outings.

“He hasn’t been able to repeat his delivery as much as he’d like,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “There’s been a little drift. He’s been spraying the ball a little bit. He hasn’t been able to go to his secondary pitch with much success at all, and that’s problematic.”

Once his elbow is sound again, it’s likely Crotta will be demoted to Triple-A Indianapolis. Hurdle said Crotta, 26, needs more seasoning and more frequent work.

“At this point in his career, you’d like to feed him more consistent outings so he could continue to develop,” Hurdle said. “But that’s not always (possible) here.”

»»» Ascanio, 26, made a slower-than-expected recovery from shoulder surgery on Oct. 2, 2009. He pitched in just two games that year for the Pirates after being acquired in a trade from the Chicago Cubs.

Ascanio pitched a total of three innings last year in rehab stints with the Gulf Coast League team and High-A Bradenton. He went 2-1 with one save and a 0.96 ERA in 16 games with Caracas in the Venezuelan Winter League.

»»» Jose Tabata has been benched tonight, so Xavier Paul will start in left field against the Dodgers. Tabata’s hamstring, which troubled him a week ago, is healthy. His bat, however, is not. Although Tabata has reached base safely in the past four games, he is just 2 for 16 over his past five games.

Lineups for tonight’s game:

Dodgers (17-20) – 1. Jamey Carroll ss, 2. Ivan DeJesus 2b, 3. Andre Ethier rf, 4. Matt Kemp cf, 5. Juan Uribe 3b, 6. Rod Barajas c, 7. Jerry Sands lf, 8. Russell Mitchell 1b, 9. Hiroki Kuroda rhp (3-3, 3.69)

Pirates (18-18) – 1. Andrew McCutchen cf, 2. Jose Tabata lf, 3. Matt Diaz rf, 4. Neil Walker 2b, 5. Steve Pearce 1b, 6. Ryan Doumit c, 7. Pedro Alvarez 3b, 8. Ronny Cedeno ss, 9. Paul Maholm lhp (1-4, 3.68)