Justin Wilson Ready For Any Role With Pirates
PITTSBURGH — Is Justin Wilson a starter or a reliever?
"That's the question everyone asks me," said the Pirates lefthander. "We'll see what happens."
Wilson, 25, has been primarily a starting pitcher since being drafted from Fresno State in the fifth round in 2008, after helping lead the Bulldogs to the College World Series title that year.
However, when Wilson made his major league debut with the Pirates in 2012, all eight of his appearances were in relief.
It's easy to envision Wilson in either role.
PNC Park is a tough place for righthanded hitters, which means lefty starters have an advantage. On the other hand, Wilson has seen his velocity spike to 99 mph when he is used in relief.
"If I were forced to choose, I'd stay with starting because it's what I'm most comfortable doing," Wilson said. "I like the routine of pitching every fifth day."
Then again . . .
"If pitching in relief is my ticket to the big leagues then I'm all for it," he said. "I do like relieving, too. You get the adrenaline pumping . . . and you have a chance to be involved in more games."
Despite spending two seasons at Triple-A, Wilson showed during his time with the Pirates that he is still a work in progress. Though he posted a fine 1.93 ERA in eight games, he also allowed 10 hits and three walks in 4 2⁄3 innings.
Another Pirates pitcher who made the transition from starter to reliever at Indianapolis in 2011, righthander Jared Hughes, believes Wilson can be an effective weapon out of the bullpen.
"The one thing I talked to him about is being super aggressive, just going out there and not holding anything back," Hughes said. "There's no reason to pace yourself. He fit in pretty well. He knew what to do."
• The Pirates claimed two players off waivers, righthanded reliever Chad Beck from the Blue Jays and catcher Ali Solis from the Padres. Beck, 27, was 0-0, 6.32 in 14 games for the Blue Jays last season and 2-0, 1.31 with 18 saves with Triple-A Las Vegas. Solis, 25, went 0-for-4 with the Padres and hit .283/.307/.419 with Double-A San Antonio.
• Righthander reliever Vic Black has been working on a two-seam fastball in the Arizona Fall League to complement his four-seamer that has been clocked as high at 100 mph. Black was 2-3, 1.63 with 13 saves in 51 games with Double-A Altoona this year.