Sharing Jason Grilli’s pain
In 40 years of covering Major League Baseball, seldom have I seen a scene as depressing as Jason Grilli fighting back tears as he left the Nationals Park mound last night.
He was two strikes from his NL-leading 31st save, which has made him so critical to the charge of the Pirates, who at the time were gasping to hang onto a 6-5 lead over the Nationals in another game critical to chilling out a fan base prone to collapse-dreading panic.
But this wasn’t about the team. The Bucs have the bullpen arms to adjust on the fly, from Mark Melancon down.
This was about the man, a man who has overcome so much — others’ skepticism, his own physical woes — to, at 36, validate a lifetime of faith and perseverance. Imagine doing something for the first time in your career at 36, and becoming the absolute best in your profession at it.
Professional, and personal, gratification does not get better than that.
And to have it all unravel on one fateful, pain-inducing pitch is so cruel.
We don’t know what tests on Grilli’s forearm will reveal. In tweets this morning, long hours after letting the shock of the trauma wear off, Grilli himself referred to the episode as a “minor setback.”
Regardless of those medicals, even if they do not indicate any structural damage, Grilli obviously will be out of action for a considerable time.
The Pirates will overcome his loss. Here is a fervent prayer that Jason can get over the bad deal, too.