Grilli Excelling as a Pirate Again
Jason Grilli’s baseball career has come full circle. The hard-throwing right-handed pitcher enjoyed enormous success as the ace of the Seton Hall Pirates’ pitching staff in the late-1990s, and now at the age of 36, Grilli is seeing his greatest success as a professional, again for the Pirates. After playing 16 professional seasons for nine different franchises, Grilli has excelled as the closer for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2013. His national league-leading 28 saves and 2.09 ERA has landed him his first All-Star Game appearance. Grilli becomes the first former Seton Hall player to be named to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game since Matt Morris did so with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2002. “It’s a dream come true basically,” Grilli told The Setonian in May. “I know its cliché, but I’ve never dreamed about doing anything but this ever since I was a little kid. To be able to experience what I’ve experienced so far and what I’ve accomplished so far, it’s been journey.” A dominant pitcher in a Seton Hall uniform, Grilli played three seasons in South Orange and struck out a Pirates’ record 256 batters, a mark that was tied by Jon Prosinski last season. A two-time All-BIG EAST selection, he was named a Freshman All-American in 1995 and NJCBA Pitcher of the Year in 1997. Grilli’s 125 strikeouts as a junior led the conference and his 18 strikeouts vs. Connecticut on April 26, 1997 is tied for the single-game BIG EAST record. Following his junior season, Grilli was drafted by the San Francisco Giants with the fourth overall pick of the 1997 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. But due to inconsistency and a devastating knee injury, he hasn’t seen significant success until late in his career. Now, Grilli is making up for lost time. “I said I’m making it back because I’m not done with baseball,” Grilli said. “Baseball may say it’s trying to weed me out, as this game does, but I’m not done with baseball, and I’m going to take my time and turn in my jersey when I say it’s time for me to do it and pass the baton to somebody else. At 36, I’m just getting started because I’m finally getting the chance.” Heading into the final series of the season's first half, Grilli is helping lead a renaissance in Pittsburgh as the Pirates boast the second-best record in the National League and sit only 1.5 games out of first place in the Central Division. Pittsburgh entered the season having registered 20 straight losing seasons. But Grilli, having blown just one save this season, is doing his part to change the club’s fortunes during this special 2013 campaign. It’s has been a lengthy journey for the former Seton Hall standout, but Grilli is thoroughly enjoying the ride. “I can say it’s all been worth it,” Grilli said. “I’m relishing and putting everything into taking advantage of the opportunity that I’ve been given right now. Once a Pirate, I’m a Pirate again.” Be sure to look for Jason Grilli as a member of the National League All-Star Team during the 2013 MLB All-Star Game at Citi Field, home of the New York Mets, on Tuesday, July 16. Live coverage begins on FOX at 7:30 p.m. ET.