Pirates notebook: Trade brings reliever Duke Welker back

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The Pirates on Tuesday re-acquired right-hander Duke Welker from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for left-hander Kris Johnson.

Welker, a 27-year-old rookie, went to the Twins on Oct. 5 as the player to be named later as part of the Aug. 31 trade for Justin Morneau. He appeared in two games for the Pirates last season. In 63 innings at Class AAA Indianapolis, he had a 3.57 ERA in 48 appearances with 65 strikeouts.

The Pirates originally drafted Welker in the second round out of Arkansas in 2007. The 6-foot-7 reliever throws his fastball, a two-seamer that moves in on right-handers, in the mid- to high-90s and a slider in the mid-80s.

Johnson, 29, pitched in four games, starting one, for the Pirates in 2013, including his major league debut. In 26 games, 21 starts, at Indianapolis, Johnson went 10-4 with a 2.39 ERA across 1352⁄3 innings.

He spent eight seasons in the minor leagues before making his debut Aug. 18. Johnson entered in the 11th inning with the score tied, 2-2, between the Pirates and Arizona Diamondbacks and pitched five scoreless innings before allowing two runs in the 16th inning to take the loss.

Spring training schedule

The Pirates will begin Grapefruit League play against the New York Yankees at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla., according to the spring training schedule the team released Tuesday.

The intrasquad scrimmage will be Feb. 25, followed by the Grapefruit League opener the next day.

The Pirates and Philadelphia Phillies will play two exhibition games March 28 and 29 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia before start of the regular season March 31 against the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park.

Individual spring training tickets go on sale Jan. 25. From Jan. 22-24, fans can purchase single-game tickets online at higher prices if they want to guarantee tickets to certain games.

Spring training season tickets go on sale Dec. 11.

Bill Brink: bbrink@post-gazette.com and Twitter @BrinkPG.

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