LOS ANGELES — The Pirates on Wednesday recalled left-hander and former Calhoun High star Josh Smoker from Class AAA Indianapolis. Smoker took Joe Musgrove’s place on the active roster after Musgrove went on the 10-day disabled list with a finger infection.
Smoker, acquired from the New York Mets in late January, was on the Pirates’ opening day roster but struggled in five games with the club. He allowed nine hits and four earned runs over four innings, walking two and striking out none.
He was optioned April 13. Since then, he has posted a 2.59 ERA over 31 1/3 innings, striking out 35, with Indianapolis.
“Obviously, this season didn’t start out the way I wanted it to for me, so getting to Indy and getting to work on things and see batters on a continuous basis, more than just one or two batters at a time, I think that was a huge thing for me as far as getting some extra work in,” said Smoker, who arrived in Los Angeles Wednesday morning.
Smoker did not pitch for three days after he was optioned, which he said helped him “mentally reset.” His velocity has improved as the weather has heated up, and he said he’s gained back his confidence on the mound.
“The work has been steadfast,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “He was very intentional in regaining fastball command, intentional on the mound, repeating his delivery. ... The velocity has been firm and there’s been some angle to it. And he’s showed confidence in throwing secondary pitches in offensive counts, behind in the count, so the reports were good.”
Musgrove is expected to miss only one start.
Smoker got into Wednesday’s game, pitching an inning of scoreless relief. He struck out one and walked one.
Marte back in starting lineup: Starling Marte is back in center field after not starting for the last three games. Hurdle sat Marte as the center fielder works to find his groove at the plate; he came off the bench Sunday and Tuesday.
“Struggling at home plate, got my timing off,” Marte said. “Trying to get it again. Gave me two days off to get my confidence back and work in the cage.”
Since returning from the disabled list in late May, Marte has batted .198 with a .585 OPS and three home runs.
“It’s been difficult because sometimes I’ve got my timing ready; other times I’ve got my timing off,” Marte said. “I’ve been like that since when I came off the DL. Try to figure out what is my hand position or my feet, how wide I am at home plate. We tried to figure out what happened.”
Smoker is one of two former Calhoun High stars playing in the MLB. His former teammate Charlie Culberson is with the Braves. Here’s an update on how each of them are doing so far this season:
Culberson, Smoker continue success
Culberson has played in 57 games so far this season for Atlanta and his hitting .273 with four homers, 10 doubles, two triples and 21 RBIs. He also has three stolen bases and has drawn 11 walks while playing several different positions for Atlanta. He has 10 hits and seven RBIs in his last 10 games.
Smoker was called back up to the Majors on July 4 after spending a few months in Triple-A in Indianapolis. While in the Minors this season, he appeared in 28 games and had a 3-1 record with a 2.59 ERA. in 31 1-3 innings of work. He made five appearances with Pittsburgh early in the season before being sent down, and in his one appearance since being called back up he pitched an inning of scoreless relief and struck out one.
—CT Sports Editor Alex Farrer contributed to this report.