Before tonight's game, I talked to Russell Martin about what Jason Grilli meant to the the team, and what he knows about Ernesto Frieri.
One of the iconic images of the Pirates' 2013 season was Grilli hugging Martin and giving him a celebratory jab to the chest as Martin held the baseball over his head following the final out of the playoff-clinching game in Wrigley Field (pictured above). That image, along with the many other similar game-ending celebrations, will always link the the two players in Pirates history.
"Obviously, those moments, those pictures that capture those moments, are priceless. It's something that I'll hold onto forever," Martin said of the shared history between the two of them.
The Pirates' catcher said that looking back on what the two of them and the team accomplished last season has helped him gain perspective on what has been up-and-down season so far this year.
"To look back on it can motivate you, it can give you confidence, it can make you believe that what we have here is good."
Martin described Grilli as "huge part" of the team's success last year, but more importantly he appreciated the former Pirates' closer as a good teammate. He noted, however, that losing the Pirates' closer role this season was tough for Grilli.
"More than a player, though, he is a good clubhouse guy and a good person. He is a fun guy to be around," Martin said.
"But just like any athlete, when you're not doing well and the team's heading into a different direction, it can leave some sourness. I think Grilli still wanted to be the closer. To have that taken away can be a little frustrating. You still want to be a good teammate, so it's a tough spot to be in."
Martin said it was difficult for the guys on the team to "lose a friend and a good person." But, on the other hand, he is happy that Grilli has the opportunity to "get things done somewhere else" and perhaps return to the closer's role with the Angels.
Martin remembers facing the newly-acquired Ernesto Frieri in Anaheim last season.
"I've faced him a few times. We played the Angels last year and he actually had a rough outing against us. Probably one of his only rough outings of the year. I think he had a zero ERA when we faced him, and I think we gave him an ERA that day."
Martin described Frieri has having a "good, lively arm" and a "kind of invisible fastball."
"Ton of swing-throughs. There must be something in his delivery that is a little funky to hitters. I don't know what the situation is with him this year. ... I'm going to see what we have and talk to him, get to know him a little bit, and go from there."