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Pirates notebook: Even Cumpton shocked by his callup, impending start

Rob Biertempfel
| Friday, June 14, 2013, 6:48 p.m.
The Pirates' Russell Martin scores in the third inning past Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis on Friday, June 14, 2013, at PNC Park.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Pirates' Russell Martin scores in the third inning past Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis on Friday, June 14, 2013, at PNC Park.

When right-hander Brandon Cumpton starts for the Pirates on Saturday against the Los Angeles Dodgers, it will be a big league debut that no one saw coming.

Especially Cumpton.

“I'm shocked,” Cumpton said as he unpacked his gear at PNC Park. “I was blindsided by it. I'm awed right now. I don't know what to think being around all these guys. It will all set in later, maybe.”

Cumpton was called up from Triple-A Indianapolis on Friday and placed on the taxi squad. The Pirates will make corresponding moves Saturday place him on the 40-man and active rosters. That might be achieved by cutting struggling reliever Mike Zagurski.

Cumpton will replace A.J. Burnett, who's on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained right calf. However, manager Clint Hurdle indicated Cumpton is making just a spot start, and the Pirates will figure out later who will fill in for Burnett's next turn in the rotation.

Cumpton, 24, was a ninth-round pick in 2010 out of Georgia Tech. He's shown promise by making a rapid ascent through the farm system.

“It plays a part (in the callup decision),” Hurdle said. “It plays a part, too, when somebody goes down and you look to the next man up, the next man available at that particular time.”

Cumpton had been scheduled to pitch Saturday for Indy, where he was 4-4 with a 3.31 ERA in 11 games (10 starts).

“He's basically a three-pitch guy,” Hurdle said. “He's a strike-thrower, can throw the ball to both sides of the plate, spin it and change speeds. He's a competitor.”

Burnett's freak injury

Burnett injured his calf while running on the field during his normal between-starts workout routine.

“A freak thing,” said Burnett, who described the injury as a grade-one muscle tear. “I went to slow down and felt a pop, a tug, a pull, whatever you call it, and that was pretty much it. I can barely put any pressure on it.”

Burnett paused and grinned.

“I kinda wish I would've done it goofing off,” he said.

A grade-one tear usually requires two to three weeks of rest. Burnett is wearing a walking boot and is getting daily treatment.

“I've got history of getting hurt without doing anything (in a game),” Burnett said, referring to the eye injury he sustained while bunting during spring training in 2012. “So I guess this was just bound to happen. Hopefully, I can get back sooner than later and not have this turn into a six-week thing.”

Marte on shelf

Outfielder Starling Marte was out of the lineup Friday for the second game in a row because of what he said is a strained left oblique.

Marte isn't sure how much longer he will be out of action. He was injured Wednesday when he made a head-first slide while stealing second base.

Draft signings

The Pirates signed five more draft picks, including second-rounder Blake Taylor. As a 17-year-old lefty with a fastball in the low 90s, Taylor has what Baseball America called “tantalizing” potential. The Pirates also signed infielder Trae Arbet (fifth round), righty Shane Carle (10th), infielder Danny Collins (13th) and catcher Max Rossiter (15th).

Taylor and Arbet will join the rookie-level Gulf Coast League team. Carle, Collins and Rossiter will be assigned to short-season Class A Jamestown.

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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