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Pirates notebook: Gomez to start Sunday, McDonald has MRI

| Wednesday, May 8, 2013, 6:54 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates reliever Jeanmar Gomez delivers Sunday, April 14, 2013, against the Reds at PNC Park.

Pirates right-hander Jeanmar Gomez will start Sunday's game in New York, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said Wednesday.

Gomez threw five shutout innings on short notice Tuesday against the Seattle Mariners; he took the place of scheduled starter James McDonald, who informed the team of right shoulder discomfort hours before the game.

McDonald had an MRI on Wednesday morning that showed no structural damage, only inflammation. He had a platelet-rich plasma injection to stimulate healing. McDonald was placed on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday.

Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said Tuesday evening that top-rated prospect Gerrit Cole was not an option to replace McDonald on Sunday.

Jonathan Sanchez also is not an option; he was released Wednesday. The lefty was designed for assignment last week after struggling mightily in April.

Martin out again

Pirates catcher Russell Martin was out of the lineup for a second consecutive day Wednesday. Martin suffered muscle spasms in his neck during a pregame workout Tuesday while participating in lateral jumps. Martin said after Tuesday's game that he was feeling better.

“But,” said Hurdle, “I think he needs to be out another day.”

Welker called up

Triple-A Indianapolis manager Dean Treanor's delivery when informing pitcher Duke Welker he was headed to the majors for the first time was unique, Welker said.

Welker declined to share details — “We'll save that for the locker room,” he said — but said the conversation involved personal questions and discomfort.

“He wants the best for you, but he tries to, in a way, intimidate you a little bit and make you feel uncomfortable,” said Welker, 27, the Pirates' second-round pick in 2007. “It's kind of funny. And then when it's good news he goes over the top with it. He just made it ... interesting. Made me feel awkward and then gave me the good news.”

Welker is 3-0 and has not allowed an earned run in 10 relief appearances with Indianapolis (16 innings, three hits, one run, eight walks, 20 strikeouts). He began last season with Double-A Altoona, was promoted to Indianapolis in May and went 0-1 with a 2.27 ERA in 31 23 innings (26 games).

The right-hander said there's no real reason for his dominance this year.

“I think just trusting my ability and enjoying what God gave me and playing the game, having fun,” said Welker, whose first phone call after his big news was to his father.

Bay comes ‘home'

Mariners outfielder Jason Bay's cell phone buzzed the other day. It was a message from Washington Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche, who was in Pittsburgh for a series against the Pirates.

Bay and LaRoche were Pirates teammates in 2007 and part of '08 until Bay was traded to Boston. A year later, LaRoche also was dealt to the Red Sox, making them nothing more than occasional visitors to PNC Park.

“You were on the board today,” read the text on Bay's phone.

During the Nationals-Pirates game, the scoreboard flashed the all-time leaders in home runs and RBI at PNC Park. LaRoche found it funny that, five years after Bay was traded, he still tops both lists.

“With (Andrew) McCutchen and a few of those guys around now, it's probably not going to last too much longer,” said Bay, who collected 61 homers and 241 RBI in six seasons on the North Shore.

“Coming back (Tuesday), I recognized some of the maintenance guys and the clubhouse guys,” Bay said. “I don't know many of the players over there, but a lot of the other faces haven't changed. I like that. It has a homey kind of feel to it.”

Morton and Karstens resume throwing

Right-hander Charlie Morton (shoulder) threw off flat ground Tuesday, which went well, according to Hurdle. Hurdle said Morton is scheduled to throw a bullpen session during the club's trip to New York.

Morton was showing increased velocity, touching 97 mph, during his rehab before feeling discomfort in his right shoulder.

Jeff Karstens (shoulder) was expected to throw two innings in extended spring training Wednesday.

McPherson and Irwin medical updates

Right-hander Kyle McPherson visited Dr. James Andrews on Monday. Andrews treated McPherson's elbow with a platelet-rich plasma injection and recommended more rest before beginning a throwing program. ... Fellow righty Phil Irwin was diagnosed with ulnar neuritis in his right elbow and will rest before resuming throwing.

Staff writer Rob Biertempfel contributed. Karen Price and Travis Sawchik are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Reach Price at or via Twitter @KarenPrice_Trib. Reach Sawchik at or via Twitter @Sawchik_Trib.

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