Pirates add pitcher Johnson to bolster bullpen

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The Pirates called up left-handed pitcher Kris Johnson today to reinforce a tired bullpen.

It is the first time Johnson, 28, has appeared on a major league roster, and the Pirates placed injured catcher Michael McKenry on the 60-day disabled list to make room for Johnson on the 40-man roster. The Pirates optioned outfielder Andrew Lambo to make room on the 25-man roster.

"Guys have carried their individual workloads," manager Clint Hurdle said. "Our starting pitchers are aware of the workload that they need to carry. We'll continue to be of the mindset that we want to get our starters to the position where we can choose to use our bullpen, not be forced to use our bullpen."

Bryan Morris, Jeanmar Gomez and Vin Mazzaro are unavailable to pitch out of the bullpen today when the Pirates and Diamondbacks play at 1:35 p.m.

"We got put in a situation [Saturday] where we had to red-line two guys that we didn't want to red-line," Hurdle said. "So we're going to give them ample time down."

In 25 appearances at Class AAA Indianapolis this season -- 20 of them starts -- Johnson is 10-4 with a 2.41 ERA. He averages 6.2 strikeouts per nine innings and just 2.8 walks per nine innings.

He will be used out of the bullpen and joins a slew of young pitchers upon whom the Pirates have called up from Indianapolis to make their major league debuts this season, a list that includes Ryan Reid, Duke Welker and Vic Black.

"We've been confident all season when we've made moves down there," Hurdle said.

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Michael Sanserino: msanserino@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1722 and Twitter @msanserino. First Published August 18, 2013 12:45 AM


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