WASHINGTON -- The Pirates are not necessarily through with reliever Evan Meek.
Although there are plenty of unusual circumstances related to Rule 5 draft picks, there is a palpable feeling among management that he could remain in the system, provided a few elements play out.
INDIANAPOLIS (16-15) won at Norfolk, 9-8. RHP Jason Davis (2-3, 6.18) allowed four runs and three hits in 5 1/3 innings. RHP Marino Salas (0.87) pitched a scoreless ninth for his second save. 3B Neil Walker (.202) hit his fourth home run and went 2 for 4 with two RBIs. RF Steve Pearce (.250) went 1 for 4. CF Andrew McCutchen (.294) went 0 for 4 with a walk.
ALTOONA (12-17) split a doubleheader with Erie, winning, 4-3, and losing, 9-2. In the first game, LHP Kyle Bloom (0-2, 7.48) allowed three runs and six hits in four innings. LHP Dave Davidson (3.10) pitched three scoreless innings of relief. In the nightcap, LHP Brian Holliday (0-1, 12.27), recalled from Lynchburg for one start, allowed five runs and nine hits in 3 2/3 innings. For the day, 1B Jason Delaney (.327) went 4 for 7 with an RBI and a steal.
LYNCHBURG (12-17) was off.
HICKORY (15-16) lost to Charleston, 8-1. RHP Rafael Delossantos (1-2, 4.55) allowed six runs and seven hits in three innings. CF Marcus Davis (.270) went 2 for 4.
When a Rule 5 claim is designated for assignment, as Meek was yesterday morning, he must clear 48-hour waivers. If that happens in this case, the Pirates can offer Meek back to Tampa Bay for half the original claiming price of $50,000 or work out a trade to keep him.
The latter scenario sounded most likely yesterday. General manager Neal Huntington has had preliminary talks with the Rays aimed at a trade, perhaps one limited to a cash transaction, to keep Meek. The Pirates then could assign Meek to the minors and retain his major-league rights.
"Our hope is that we can keep Evan," Huntington said.
Meek, who turns 25 next week, had a 6.92 ERA, 12 walks, 3 home runs and 7 strikeouts in 14 innings. He was designated to clear space for Sean Burnett, formally promoted from Class AAA Indianapolis yesterday morning.
"As we said all along, we wanted to give Evan a chance to compete at the major-league level," Huntington said. "But, as we looked at the best way for him to achieve his potential and the best thing for this team, we felt it was time to get Sean into our bullpen."
Perhaps no one was more pleased to see Burnett than pitching coach Jeff Andrews, who worked with him for years in the minors. Their relationship is close enough that Burnett this year gave his son a middle name in Andrews' honor.
"When I heard the news ... you know, we've been so wrapped in our little world and our pitching problems here that you can forget the human element of all this," Andrews said. "Good for Sean. It's something that should make you smile. This is really neat for everyone who's been involved with him for these four years."
For Burnett, too, with his return to Major League Baseball four years and two arm surgeries in the making.
"I'm pretty excited," he said after an early arrival at the park. "It's been a long time, a rough ride for the last couple years, but it's all paid off in the last 24 hours."
Burnett had been plenty displeased about being demoted after a superb spring.
Did he get down?
"Trent Jewett would never allow that," he said of Indianapolis' manager. "I've got to thank him for a lot over the past couple years. He always had me keeping my head up."
Wilson day-to-day again
There no longer is a firm date for shortstop Jack Wilson to begin a minor-league rehabilitation stint, given the setback with his strained calf Friday. He will take "a couple more days," Huntington said, to have light workouts and tests in Bradenton, Fla., before a date is set.
That makes a return next weekend -- the most recent target -- highly unlikely.
"Unfortunately, we're back to the phase where Jack is going day-to-day," Huntington said.
What about Morgan?
The Pirates are weighing whether it might be best to return outfielder Nyjer Morgan to the minors, given that he has made only two starts in 31 games and has struggled of late.
"If we're beginning to slow Nyjer's development process, we're going to have to look at a move," Huntington said. "I don't want to say Nyjer's going to be optioned out in the near future, but the reality is we've got to do the right thing for him."
• Best bet to replace Morgan, if it comes to that, is Kevin Thompson, partly because he is batting .351 with four home runs for Indianapolis, partly because he could back up Nate McLouth in center field.
• To replace Burnett in Indianapolis, the Pirates acquired journeyman reliever Matt Miller from the Boston Red Sox for a player to be named later. Miller, 36, spent parts of the past four seasons with Cleveland .
• The pitching staff has seven left-handers, most in the majors.