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Bednar continues to be lights out for Bucs

Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher David Bednar, center, celebrates with his teammates after a recent win over the Dodgers in Los Angeles. Associated Press
Mars graduate earns NL Reliever of Month Award for May

PITTSBURGH — David Bednar’s baseball future remains unknown — possible National League all-star berth, possible trade bait.

The Mars graduate’s baseball present is very clear — and very good.

The Pirates’ closer was recently named National League Relief Pitcher of the Month for May. The right-hander earned seven of his team-leading 10 saves in May, fashioning a 1.65 earned run average while striking out 21 and walking only two in 16.1 innings.

The last Pirate reliever to post such numbers in a single month was Jason Grilli in 2013.

“I just approach each outing the same,” said Bednar, who turns 28 in October. “I don’t care when they want me to enter a game. If it’s the seventh inning, ninth or whatever, I’m going to do the same thing: Get hitters out while being efficient with my pitches.”

Bednar has already had four saves of more than one inning. He leads all closers in the major leagues in multi-inning saves. He threw 50 pitches in two innings in a recent game at Dodger Stadium, picking up his second win of the season in the ninth inning after registering his first blown save of the campaign in the eighth.

“I loved the fact that they stayed with me (against the Dodgers),” he said. “I had a 50-pitch outing maybe once with San Diego, a couple of times in the minor leagues ... besides that, you have to go back to college or high school.

“I’m amped up at the time, so the pitch count doesn’t bother me. The Pirates are showing confidence in me when they have me pitch more than one inning late. The last thing I want is to let them down. As I’ve experienced success the past few years, my confidence in my pitches has increased.”

Since he was acquired from the Padres in the Joe Musgrove trade during the winter of 2021, Bednar has produced a 1.93 ERA in 84 appearances with the Pirates. He is their prime All-Star candidate and has been mentioned by MLB.com as one of the 10 major leaguers most likely to be traded before the deadline.

All Bednar cares about is pitching well — and pitching better.

“I want to get outs as quickly as I can get them,” he said. “I’m working on better command of all of my pitches. Getting ahead of hitters is everything.”

Bednar had an outing against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field this season in which he struck out the side in the ninth after allowing the potential tying and winning runs to get into scoring position with nobody out.

“Not an ideal situation,” he said. “But it was good to get out of it.”

While Bednar is enjoying his own success, he is also keeping up with younger brother Will, who is pitching for Class A San Jose of the California League in the San Francisco Giants organization. The younger Bednar — who turned 22 Monday — was the Giants’ first-round draft selection last summer.

“We talk on the phone every day, keep up with each other,” David Bednar said. “I’m pulling for him as much as I’m pulling for myself.”

Will Bednar is 1-3 with a 4.19 ERA in 12 starts at San Jose. He has 51 strikeouts and 22 walks in 43 innings pitched.

Will is averaging 10.7 strikeouts per nine innings this season, David 12.2 per nine innings. Both throw high-powered, moving fastballs.

“Just get out there and go at them,” David Bednar said of pitching. “That’s the only way I know.”

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