NEW YORK-- Reliever Salomon Torres has soreness in the medial collateral ligament of his right elbow, and the matter is serious enough that the Pirates placed him on the 15-day disabled list yesterday and will have their medical staff conduct an MRI tomorrow in Pittsburgh.
It is not yet known if that examination also will involve an arthrogram -- dye injected into the elbow to enhance the imaging -- as happened with Tom Gorzelanny and Mike Gonzalez late last season. If it does, Torres could need as much as three weeks to recover from the procedure alone.
To take Torres' place in the bullpen, the Pirates purchased the contract of Masumi Kuwata, their first Japanese signing, from Class AAA Indianapolis.
Torres initially informed management of elbow discomfort in spring training, but he apparently did not tell anyone of the specific issue with the MCL until late Friday night, after he failed to retire either of his two batters faced in the 5-4 loss to the New York Yankees.
"When a player mentions the MCL, it's 'Whoa,' " manager Jim Tracy said. "You need to stop right there and get it looked at."
Torres, 35, has been a model of durability since joining the Pirates, having made 84, 78 and 94 appearances the past three seasons. He has made 30 this season, and has a 5.14 ERA and six blown saves.
He sounded uncertain about what to expect tomorrow.
"We'll see how it goes," Torres said. "I've been pitching through this for a while, and it's time to get it checked out."
Kuwata arrives late
Kuwata, owner of 173 victories in 21 seasons with Japan's Yomiuri Giants, will have to wait another day to fulfill his goal of reaching the majors.
He was promoted in the morning, but flight delays prevented him from arriving at Yankee Stadium in time for the game yesterday afternoon. He was expected to land in New York last night and will be available to pitch today.
Kuwata, 39, had three scoreless outings for Indianapolis and, most impressive, walked no one and threw 36 of 48 pitches for strikes in his 4 1/3 innings.
"It's his experience," Tracy said when asked why Kuwata was the choice. "He's been very successful in his career, and he's a strike-thrower. You've got to beat him with the bat."
The large Japanese media contingent that regularly follows the Yankees swarmed the Pirates' clubhouse before and after the game in search of Kuwata. All they found was a No. 18 jersey with his name hanging at his stall.
The 40-man roster is full with Kuwata's addition. If closer Matt Capps' suspension kicks in Tuesday, as expected, the Pirates will be forced to go with 24 on the 25-man roster, so demoting a position player would be necessary if the team seeks additional bullpen help.
Shawn Chacon will face his former teammates today, having played for the Yankees until they traded him to the Pirates in July: "It's going to be exciting. I'm looking forward to it. The first time you pitch in Yankee Stadium, it is a little intimidating. But you get used to it real quick, and I've had a lot of experience, obviously."
Freddy Sanchez's hitting streak ended at nine with his 0-for-4 afternoon.
INDIANAPOLIS (38-23) won at Charlotte, 8-7, in 11 innings. RHP Marty McLeary (4-1, 2.68) allowed two runs and four hits in five-plus innings. RHP Dan Kolb (3.32) entered with one out in the ninth, two men on and a four-run lead but allowed Charlotte to tie. He was charged with two runs on four hits over 1 2/3 innings. LF Nick Green (.256) hit his fourth home run and went 2 for 6 with three RBIs. SS Brian Bixler (.317) went 2 for 6 with an RBI.
ALTOONA (29-30) lost at Harrisburg, 9-6. RHP Alay Soler (1-1, 4.42) allowed three runs in five innings. RHP Romulo Sanchez (3.09) allowed three runs in 1 1/3 innings of relief. CF Andrew McCutchen (.230) went 2 for 5 with a double and threw out a runner at home. 3B Neil Walker (.308) went 0 for 4 with a walk.
LYNCHBURG (28-31) lost to Salem, 8-3. RHP Serguey Linares (1-2, 3.45) allowed six runs, three earned, in five innings. 1B Jason Delaney (.353) went 2 for 4 with a double and an RBI.
HICKORY (24-35) beat Asheville, 5-2. RHP Brad Clapp (3-6, 7.28) allowed one run in five innings. 2B Jim Negrych (.313) hit his first home run and went 3 for 4 with a double and three RBIs.