Pirates Notebook: Duke seeks second opinion on elbow

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Monday's results

INDIANAPOLIS (46-37) lost at Louisville, 1-0. LHP Michael Tejera (3-1, 4.06) pitched six scoreless innings and allowed eight hits. He struck out three and walked one. RHP Josh Sharpless (3.50) allowed one run, three hits and two walks in two innings of relief. SS Brian Bixler (.303) went 1 for 4 with a double.

ALTOONA (41-39) lost to Bowie, 6-4. RHP Derek Hankins (0-1, 12.27), promoted from Class A Lynchburg earlier in the day, allowed six runs, five earned, in 3 2/3 innings. 1B Steve Pearce (.333) went 2 for 4 with a walk, an RBI and a steal. 3B Neil Walker (.301) went 1 for 4 with a sacrifice fly and two RBIs. CF Andrew McCutchen (.235) went 1 for 3 with two walks.

LYNCHBURG (36-43) lost to Potomac, 10-3. RHP Jean Garavito (3-4, 2.39) allowed five runs, two earned, in six innings. LF Jamie Romak (.269) went 1 for 3 with a walk.

HICKORY (32-46) lost at Asheville, 16-3. RHP Jared Hughes (7-6, 4.11) allowed 10 runs, four earned, in 1 2/3 innings. 3B Jared Keel (.274) hit his 10th home run and went 1 for 4.

STATE COLLEGE (9-5) beat Batavia, 1-0. RHP Matt Foust (0-1, 3.18) pitched six scoreless innings and allowed one hit. LF Marcus Davis (.294) went 1 for 3 with a walk and two steals.

BRADENTON (5-6) was off.

Zach Duke

is not ready to breathe easily just yet, it seems.

His ailing left elbow has no ligament tears and will not require surgery, according to tests taken yesterday afternoon at Allegheny General Hospital under the supervision of the Pirates' medical staff. The formal diagnosis was irritation of the ulnar collateral ligament.

But that evidently did not satisfy Duke, who revealed later in the day that he would exercise his right to seek a second opinion Friday from Dr. James Andrews, the orthopedist famous for performing reconstructive arm surgeries on pitchers, in Birmingham, Ala.

If the Pirates' diagnosis is confirmed, Duke simply must rest for two weeks before beginning a rehabilitation -- long-tossing, bullpen sessions, minor-league starts -- that likely will take another two or three weeks.

If all goes well, he will be back by mid-August.

"I have to be cautious, and I know that," Duke said. "I have to make sure it's right. Obviously, I'm happy that there's no structural damage, but I still want to make sure I'm right before I try to go back out there."

The procedure Duke had yesterday is called an arthrogram. Dye is injected into the affected area -- in his case, the medial collateral ligament of the elbow -- to enhance the medical images. If dye leaks, that usually is a sign of a tear. No leakage was detected on Duke's scan, according to Pirates manager Jim Tracy.

"It's clean," Tracy said.

Tracy was asked if Duke's elbow might have contributed to his 3-7 record, 5.79 ERA and .364 opponents' batting average.

"We'll see," Tracy replied. "We won't know the answer to that question until he gets back to pitching. If, when he comes back, we see fewer hits, fewer balls put in play, more life on his pitches, then we'll know for sure that the elbow contributed to what he's done so far."

Youman's second chance

Shane Youman already has shown the Pirates his stuff, having posted a 2.91 ERA in five appearances late last season, then having a fine spring training this year.

Tonight, after mixed results in three months at Class AAA Indianapolis -- 4-6 record, 4.70 ERA, but three of four good starts leading into this promotion -- he gets another shot.

"I'm looking forward to it," Youman said. "I've been working hard, and I feel like I'm ready."

Buried treasure

First baseman Steve Pearce, the Pirates' unquestioned best performer in the minors this year, yesterday was named Eastern League player of the week after going 12 for 24 with two home runs and nine RBIs for Class AA Altoona.

Pearce, third baseman Neil Walker and pitchers Luis Munoz and Matt Peterson were selected to the Eastern League All-Star Game, July 11 in Norwich, Conn. The glaring omission: Andrew McCutchen, owner of a .234 average.

The Pirates had a combined no-hitter pitched by their Venezuelan Summer League team, Wilson Ortiz fanning eight in six innings and Jesus Martinez fanning four in the final three innings of an 8-0 shutout of Detroit.


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