NEW YORK -- Range of motion is the issue; Russell Martin has none. He was missing from the Pirates' lineup Saturday for the fourth time in five games because of lingering stiffness in his neck. He said he could play in a pinch, but for him to see what was to his left or right, he had to turn his body 90 degrees.
Martin said, after the Bucs' 7-3 win Friday, he would play if the seventh game of the World Series were in the offing. Catching for a team that hasn't had a winning season in 20 years, made him guilty of pie-in-the-skying in the first degree. But he made his point.
Told of Martin's Game 7 conditional Saturday, Clint Hurdle instantly referenced New York Knicks star Willis Reed. The Pirates manager knows his New York history.
With Martin waiting for a seventh game or greater movement above his shoulders, the Pirates had Michael McKenry catching for the second straight game. Martin had caught Thursday night in the first game of the series after missing games Tuesday and Wednesday because of the same malady.
As a contingency and with the possibility of a rainout Saturday and a makeup doubleheader Sunday, the Pirates had 24-year-old Minor League catcher Tony Sanchez travel from Indianapolis to New York on Saturday morning to take a place on the taxi squad. Sanchez was not to be in uniform Saturday. A roster move would be necessary if he were to activated Sunday.
Dad's number retirement proud moment for Grilli
NEW YORK -- The roles were quite the opposite of what they might have been for Jason Grilli on Saturday morning. The Pirates closer attended a ceremony in Merrick, N.Y., where a scholastic baseball career was celebrated. Recognized at Calhoun High School was his father, Steve, a former big league pitcher.
The school retired the No. 49, worn by the older Grilli in the '60s to honor his career. Steve Grilli, 64, was a reliever with the Tigers from 1975-77 and with the Blue Jays in 1979. He wore No. 49 with the Blue Jays, too.
Now that number is affixed to a chain link fence in left field with the family name above it.
To accommodate Jason Grilli's afternoon responsibilities with the Pirates and because the Calhoun baseball team had a late-morning playoff game, the ceremonies began at 8:30 a.m. ET. Grilli made it to Citi Field well before 11 a.m., quite pleased by the props for pops ceremony he had witnessed.
"A proud baseball moment," he said.
Grilli said the school hopes to improve its baseball facilities.
"Maybe they'll move his number to a real baseball wall someday," he said. "To be there this morning, with dandelions in the grass and an uneven field, and then to come here to a cathedral ... two parts to a story. To go from that to get to this is pretty cool."
He was delighted to be in New York for his father's special day and for Mother's Day as well. His mother doesn't have a retired number.
"So you have to let her know that you love her," Grilli said. "Give her something that says you've been thinking about her. You can give her a half-eaten sandwich, but if it lets her know you're thinking of her and says 'love,' then it works."
Big K day for Bucs means ticket discount
NEW YORK -- The Pirates' decision to extend their "How Many Ks" promotion through Saturday in honor of the season debut of pitcher Francisco Liriano has dramatically reduced certain ticket prices for the first five games of their upcoming homestand.
The promotion reduced ticket prices $1 for each strikeout by a Pirates pitcher in the first three games of the series at Citi Field. Bucs pitchers amassed 16 strikeouts -- nine by Liriano in 5 1/3 innings -- Saturday, reducing the prices for lower outfield box seats from $32 to $9 and outfield boxes from $28 to $5. The discounted prices apply to games in the four-game series against the Brewers that begins Monday and the game against the Astros Friday.
The promotion runs as long as supplies last.
• Clint Hurdle said the club had made no plans, as of Saturday morning, for rehabbing pitcher Charlie Morton who threw a bullpen session Friday night and emerged pain free.
• The Pirates created room on the big league roster for Francisco Liriano by optioning pitcher Duke Welker to their Triple-A affiliate. Welker had joined the big league team Wednesday but hadn't pitched.
• Hurdle shared a wonderful anecdote from the time when he worked as batting coach for the Rockies. Vinny Castilla, a renowned fastball hitter, crushed a home run against Billy Wagner on a pitch measured at 100 mph. Hurdle was quite impressed, Castilla was a bit blasé, as in 100, what's the big deal? "It's not a problem," Castilla said, "until four digits."
• A note on the message board in the visiting clubhouse at Citi Field after the game Saturday read:
"Bags in lobby -- 9 a.m.
"Bus to park -- 9:30 a.m.
"And don't forget to call your mother."
Marty Noble is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.