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Pirates notebook: Contreras placed on DL; Morris returns from Triple-A

| Tuesday, May 28, 2013, 6:51 p.m.
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Pirates reliever Jose Contreras is pulled from the game by manager Clint Hurdle after walking four batters in the seventh inning.
Pirates starter Jeanmar Gomez delivers during the first inning against the Tigers on Tuesday, May 28, 2013, in Detroit.

DETROIT — One day after allowing four walks and the game's pivotal two runs in the seventh inning, Pirates reliever Jose Contreras was placed on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday with what the team described as “low back inflammation.”

The Pirates recalled Bryan Morris, who was sent down Monday to make room for reliever Mike Zagurski on the 25-man roster. There usually is a waiting period before recalling a player, but the rule does not apply if a player is placed on the disabled list.

Contreras pitched just 1 23 innings since May 16 before entering Monday's game. Morris has pitched in 11 games with the Pirates and has a 3.45 ERA.

McDonald, Morton struggle

Pirates starters James McDonald and Charlie Morton struggled in their Monday rehab starts, but perhaps for different reasons.

McDonald's velocity was down earlier this season; he was sent to the DL earlier this month with shoulder discomfort. He allowed four walks and three runs in one-third of an inning with Double-A Altoona, his first rehab work.

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle was asked Tuesday if McDonald was OK physically.

“It's a mixed bag,” Hurdle said. “It didn't go the way he wanted it to. There was not a whole lot in sync.”

Hurdle said he will have a phone conversation with McDonald on Wednesday.

Morton's struggles were not quite as pronounced — four runs and seven hits in five innings — and they were perhaps rooted in something off-the-field: becoming a father last week.

“Life was interrupted with the birth of Charles V,” Hurdle said. “Charlie is trying to find his way back in a lot of ways.”

Morton was expected to rejoin the Pirates after making a rehab start in Triple-A on Saturday, but Hurdle said Morton could make an additional rehab start.

Decision time

Zagurski got the call Monday to join the Pirates, and if he hadn't been summoned he had another call to make: The left-handed reliever had a June 1 out-clause in his contract to become a minor league free agent.

“I was going to speak to my agent (Monday),” Zagurski said. “We were going to wait until the last five days and evaluate where we thought we were at. I don't know what I would have done.

“This is the place where I've wanted to be all along. When I was a free agent this offseason, I had some nice conversations with Clint (Hurdle). It seemed like a good fit and a place I wanted to be.”

Zagurski hit 93 mph in a scoreless inning at Comerica Park on Monday. He showed an improved fastball and slider this season, leading the International League in strikeouts per inning.

Minor leaguers honored

Three Pirates prospects earned weekly honors Tuesday.

Shortstop Alen Hanson was named the Florida State League Player of the Week, batting .440 (11 for 25). Hanson, who is considered a future second baseman by most scouts, was ranked as the Pirates' fifth-best prospect.

Converted pitcher Stetson Allie continues to put up monster power numbers. He was named the South Atlantic League Player of the Week, has hit in 11 straight games and leads the league with 13 home runs.

Matt Hague earned weekly honors in the International League, going 9 for 25 with three homers.

Travis Sawchik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at tsawchik@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Sawchik_Trib.

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