Duke Welker of Class AAA Indianapolis receives first summons to majors

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Voices were raised Tuesday when pitcher Duke Welker talked with Class AAA Indianapolis manager Dean Treanor.

Well, one voice was raised: Treanor's.

Treanor pulled Welker into his office Tuesday afternoon before Indianapolis' game against Scranton/Wilkes Barre and launched into a tirade, the details of which aren't suitable for a newspaper or, apparently, any reporters' ears.

"We'll save it for the locker room," Welker said a day later.

Welker sat there feeling awkward and unsettled until Treanor broke character and let Welker know he had earned his first call-up to the majors.

"Dean wants the best for you," Welker said. "And he tries to, in a way, intimidate a little bit and make you feel uncomfortable. It's kind of funny. When it's good news, he goes over the top with it."

The Pirates called up Welker, a hard-throwing, 6-foot-7 reliever, Wednesday and optioned infielder Josh Harrison to Indianapolis. Welker will bolster a bullpen that grew thinner when starter James McDonald went on the disabled list Tuesday and reliever Jeanmar Gomez moved into a starting role.

Scouting report

  • Game:

    Pirates vs. New York Mets, 7:10 p.m., Citi Field, New York.

  • TV, Radio:

    No TV; KDKA-FM (93.7).

  • Probable starters:

    LHP Jeff Locke (3-1, 3.21 ERA) vs. RHP Dillon Gee (2-4, 6.16).

  • Key matchup:

    Mets vs. Locke, who allowed five earned runs on nine hits in 32/3 innings Sept. 26, 2012 in his only career start against the Mets.

  • Hidden stat:

    The Pirates are 3-12 at Citi Field since it opened in 2009.

Welker, 27, can reach 98 mph on the radar gun and has blossomed from erratic starter into dominant reliever.

The Pirates' second-round draft pick in 2007 was a surprise addition to the 40-man roster after the 2011 season because he had made just eight career appearances above Class AA.

Since then, he has been regarded as a can't-miss prospect.

He posted a 2.29 ERA in 2012 between stops in Altoona and Indianapolis. This season in Indianapolis, Welker went 3-0 in 10 appearances and did not allow an earned run. He gave up three hits to the 56 batters he faced.

"His command has been the one thing that's wavered in the past," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "It seems to have gotten better each and every year.

"This year, it's as good as it's ever been."

And even though Treanor had a good time giving the good news to Welker, he played a big role in making that news a reality.

"Our staff was banging the drum for him this time," Hurdle said, "that he's the guy."

Gomez to get another start

Gomez got three hours notice before his start Tuesday night, but he got more warning before his next one.

Hurdle announced Wednesday that Gomez will start Sunday on the road against the New York Mets, filling the spot left vacant by McDonald's trip to the disabled list.

"The last starts have been good," Gomez said.

"I was throwing long out of the bullpen.

"But, after the start [Tuesday], they said be ready for any circumstance."

Jonathan Sanchez is released

Former Pirates pitcher Jonathan Sanchez cleared waivers and was unconditionally released Wednesday. The Pirates designated Sanchez for assignment April 30 after he went 0-3 with an 11.85 ERA in five appearances, four of them starts.

Some medical updates

Two Pirates minor league pitchers will, for now, avoid surgery on elbow injuries that have caused them to be placed on the disabled list.

Kyle McPherson saw orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews Monday and received a platelet-rich plasma injection in his right elbow. Andrews also prescribed additional therapy and rest before McPherson can pitch again.

Phil Irwin visited Pirates medical director Dr. Patrick DeMeo Monday in Pittsburgh and was diagnosed with ulnar neuritis, or inflammation of his ulnar nerve, in his right elbow. DeMeo prescribed therapy and rest before Irwin will be cleared to resume throwing.

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Michael Sanserino: msanserino@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1722 or on Twitter @msanserino. First Published May 9, 2013 4:15 AM


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