Former Greensboro Grasshopper Jared Triolo joins more former Hoppers in the lineup for the MLB Pittsburgh Pirates

Jared Triolo joins his fellow rookie buddies in quest to change Pirates’ fortunes
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The moment could deliver Nick Gonzales’(Greensboro Grasshoppers) 442-foot home run over PNC Park’s center-field wall one night, or merely a single by Jared Triolo(Greensboro Grasshoppers) to lead off a scoreless eighth inning the next.

It’s all the same to Pittsburgh Pirates rookie Henry Davis(Greensboro Grasshoppers) because all three young guys are buddies, checking off firsts while trying to build major-league careers in Pittsburgh.

For Davis, his smile was at its brightest after Gonzales’ first career home run Tuesday night. He was similarly excited to see Triolo — called up before Wednesday’s game when third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes went on the injured list — register his first career hit in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 7-1 victory against the San Diego Padres.

“It’s so awesome. It’s way better (than his own two singles and two RBIs on Wednesday). By far,” he said. “You live vicariously through your teammates.

“I think I’m more nervous when I come out of the game than I am when I’m in the game. Watching Jared’s hit — I’ve seen Jared take a lot of swings in the cage, a lot of groundballs, a lot of time in the minor leagues — knowing it goes so much deeper than that. There is so much that his family has put into this, so much coaches have, teammates have. Seeing it all culminate and just getting to watch him experience a moment like that.

“You play through your teammates. They’re your best friends.”

There are six rookies currently on the Pirates’ roster who have been called up from Triple-A Indianapolis this season to make their major-league debuts. Five of them contributed to the victory Wednesday. The sixth, right-handed pitcher Osvaldo Bido, is scheduled to start Friday night against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Davis(former Greensboro Grasshopper), who is hitting .303 in his first nine games, singled in front of Carlos Santana’s home run in the first inning and drove home two more runs in the seventh. “Henry can hit. We knew that when we called him up,” manager Derek Shelton said.

Gonzales(former Greensboro Grasshopper) singled and was hit by a pitch.

Triolo(former Greensboro Grasshopper) struck out twice, but was hit by a pitch attempting to bunt in the five-run seventh inning and later singled for his first career hit in the big leagues. “They say the first is the hardest, right?” he said.

• Relief pitchers Carmen Mlodzinski(former Greensboro Grasshopper) and Cody Bolton allowed the Padres no runs in the seventh and ninth innings.

“(What) we’ve talked about for a long time, since Ben (general manager Cherington) got here,” Shelton said, “is that the lifeblood of our organization is going to be our system. We have a very young roster in terms of experience. For these guys to come up and contribute (after injuries to Bryan Reynolds and Hayes) and do what they’re doing is extremely important for us.”

Triolo was living a dream Wednesday.

“It was awesome,” he said. “I think after every play I made (he had five routine chances at third base), I would come back to the dugout and somebody would tell me, ‘Great play.’”

The game was special to him because his parents, who live in Austin, Texas, were there to see it.

Originally, they planned to watch Triolo play for the Indianapolis Indians in Louisville. When he called and said he was driving to Pittsburgh, they extended the boundaries of their trip and ended up in PNC Park on Wednesday.

“First Pirates game they’ve been to,” he said.

Triolo was especially eager for the game to start because his season was disrupted this spring by surgery to repair the hamate bone in his wrist. He recovered nicely, and crafted one four-hit game and three with three hits in an 11-day span earlier this month for Indianapolis.

“Leading up to the game was probably the longest day of all-time,” he said. “It seemed like before the game I was watching the clock and the clock wasn’t moving. During the game, it just felt like another baseball game with great talent.”

He drove 5½ hours from Indianapolis and didn’t arrive in the Pirates clubhouse until 2 p.m. Didn’t matter.

“It’s definitely welcoming coming in the locker room and knowing a lot of the guys that you played with,” he said.

The Pirates (37-42) have plenty to prove during the second half of the season, and they’ll attempt it with young players sprinkled throughout the lineup.

“All the young guys I can speak for,” said Gonzales, who works out with Davis in the offseason. “We’re all putting in a lot of work down in the minor leagues. We’re all really excited about making our (major-league) debuts and really excited to help the team win.”

They’re also learning to control their emotions, a task almost as difficult as hitting a curveball.

“It’s almost as if the ballgame is kind of second,” Gonzales said, “and you’re controlling yourself and the excitement levels. For me, no matter how I did out there, I was just so excited to make a dream come true.”