Pirates Notebook: Ludwick feels fit again after back spasms

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ST. LOUIS -- A convergence of circumstances sent Ryan Ludwick to the disabled list.

Ludwick said he experienced back spasms Tuesday, then again Wednesday morning. He has had these back spasms before in his career, he said, but usually in the offseason.

"Usually they'll put me on some muscle relaxers and it goes away in 48 hours," he said.

On Wednesday, he had an MRI that showed no damage, but was put on the disabled list.

"I don't think that he had a second episode in the past, which is what was challenging for us," general manager Neal Huntington said. "Our thought was the second episode was going to make it unlikely for him to be able to play through the weekend, which would leave us short for a week."

The Pirates had to make a roster move Wednesday to add spot starter Aaron Thompson to the active roster. They could have optioned Pedro Ciriaco to Class AAA Indianapolis, but then they would have been two bench players short with Ludwick also unavailable.

"In hindsight, we arguably put a player on the disabled list who might not have needed to go there, but given how short we were as a major league team we didn't feel like we could go short through the weekend," Huntington said.

Ludwick said he felt 100 percent Friday. The spasms, he said, usually result from benign movements.

"The last one I had, I was on the floor playing with my kid and I was on my stomach [propped up] on my elbows," he said.

"It's tough because my main focus this year was to play a full season healthy and I wasn't able to do that."

Leroux embracing long role

In his past two outings, right-hander Chris Leroux allowed one hit in 42/3 scoreless innings and struck out six batters. He has worked on pitching in extended appearances since the end of spring training, something he said Huntington wanted him to do, and has a chance to prove his worth to the bullpen for the remainder of the season.

"I've been looking forward to that all year," he said. "I just want to show them that I can compete up here and do well up here."

The Pirates requested that Leroux, 27, lower his arm slot, he said, near the end of April after a rough start at Indianapolis. The change took 1-2 mph off his fastball, but gave him better control, and turned his slider into more of a "slurve."

It's definitely more of my natural arm slot," he said. "Before I was trying to generate the angle."

The Pirates claimed Leroux off waivers from the Florida Marlins last season after Leroux had a 8.03 ERA in two seasons with them. This year, he has a 0.84 ERA in eight games.

Manager Clint Hurdle said Leroux carries a quiet confidence and, while the sample size has been small, Hurdle likes what he sees.

"I think Chris is a physical presence on the mound," Hurdle said. "With his rearranging his delivery a little bit for the slider, I think it's given him a little more deception."

Buried treasure

Derrek Lee, who is on the 15-day disabled list because of a broken bone in his left wrist, will attempt to swing a bat Monday, Hurdle said.

Bill Brink: bbrink@post-gazette.com .


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