Hughes Versatility Earns Him 26th Spot for Doubleheader

PITTSBURGH, Pa. — Right-hander Jared Hughes stay in Triple-A Indianapolis was shorter than originally expected. After being optioned on Saturday in order to activate starter A.J. Burnett from the disabled list, Hughes was demoted to the minors due the lack of room in the ‘pen being told he’d back back in Pittsburgh soon.

On Wednesday the 6″7’ reliever was all smiles back at his locker in the Pirates clubhouse.

According to the new baseball collective bargaining agreement, teams will be allowed to have 26 active players for day-night doubleheaders. The roster expands before the game, and goes back to 25 after the second game.

Hughes said he found out the news yesterday from Manager Dean Treanor after the club’s game at home in Indianapolis. He took the red eye to Pittsburgh last night.

“I didn’t even know. I thought there was no way. I guess it’s a new rule. And hey, I’m happy for it,” Hughes said. “I’m part of history, I guess. I’m just glad to be here.”

Both the Colorado Rockies and Pirates will be making history by becoming the first two clubs to use a 26th man of the 2012 season. According to the new rules, they must be scheduled with a day’s notice in order to give clubs time to bring up someone from the minor leagues.

Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle said the versatility of Hughes will help out for the club’s doubleheader this afternoon.

“He left pitching well,” Hurdle said. “He did nothing to earn a demotion, other than the stable got full. He’d given us length on a couple different occasions. You’re looking at potentially 18 innings. We felt good and comfortable with bringing him back for this doubleheader.”

“It was tough, but at the same time, I just got to do what’s best for the team,” Hughes said of getting optioned on Saturday. “I’ve got to go and do it and be ready at anytime when they need me.”

Hughes threw an inning of relief on Monday, his only outing since being sent to Triple-A. He allowed one hit over 1.0 scoreless frame with two whiff’s. Despite lack of sleep from traveling overnight, Hughes said he is ready to go.

“It’s been worse,” Hughes said on the lack of sleep. “I’m not complaining…I threw an inning a few days ago in Louisville. Felt good. I’m fresh today.”

Hurdle wouldn’t give much insight into how he would manage the bullpen during the doubleheader. Asked if closer Joel Hanrahan would be available for both games if there was a save situation, Hurdle said we’ll just have to watch and see who gets up in the bullpen.

“We’ll figure it out,” Hurdle said. “We’ll try and be smart. We’ll try and be aggressive, realistic, optimistic, and see how it plays out.”

“I don’t even consider [doubleheaders] evil. This is what we do. It’s the life we’ve chosen. We’re going to play two games today. We’ll figure it out. Everybody is going to get involved…These guys will go in here, grab a sandwich, change their shirt, we’ll throw the lineup down. Then boom. We’ll go and get right back after it.”