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Pirates notebook: Team reacquires Duke Welker from Twins

| Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013, 2:36 p.m.

The Pirates completed their first offseason trade Tuesday, re-acquiring relief pitcher Duke Welker from the Twins for left-handed pitcher Kris Johnson.

The Pirates traded Welker to the Twins in August as part of the package that brought first baseman Justin Morneau to Pittsburgh.

The hard-throwing Welker, whose fastball sits in the mid-to-upper 90s, averaged more than a strikeout per inning at Triple-A Indianapolis last season. He made two appearances for the Pirates last season.

Johnson appeared in four games for the Pirates after going 10-4 with a 2.39 ERA at Triple-A Indianapolis.

“When we checked in with the Twins this offseason, it became apparent that we preferred the pen option and they preferred the starter option,” Pirates GM Neal Huntington said about the decision to trade for Welker.

Spring training schedule released

The Pirates will open their spring training playing schedule with a scrimmage at 12 p.m. Feb. 25 in Bradenton, Fla., and then host the Yankees at 1:05 p.m. Feb. 26.

The Pirates play 29 games in their Florida spring training schedule and finish with two games in Philadelphia. The Pirates play the Phillies at 7:05 p.m. March 28 and at 1:05 p.m. March 29 at Citizens Bank Park to conclude the spring.

The first spring workout for the Pirates is Feb. 13. The first full-squad workout is Feb. 18. The Pirates established a club record by drawing 93,433 fans (6,229 average) to their 15 games at McKechnie Field in Bradenton last year.

40-man roster deadline Wednesday

Teams have until midnight Wednesday to set their 40-man roster and protect eligible prospects from being selected in next month's Rule 5 draft. Prospects not added to the 40-man by midnight can be added by other clubs in the Rule 5 draft. Prospects become eligible for the draft after four or five seasons depending upon their age if they are not on the 40-man. The Pirates enter Wednesday with 36 players on their 40-man roster.

Johnson off the board

Right-hander Josh Johnson, whom the Pirates were targeting in free agency, signed a one-year $8 million contract with the San Diego Padres, according to ESPN.com.

The deal includes $1.25 million in performance bonuses if Johnson makes 26 starts, according to the report. Johnson was in San Diego for a physical exam Tuesday and the contract is expected to be announced Wednesday

Johnson's agent, Matt Sosnick, said the Pirates were on the “short list” of Johnson's preferred teams.

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

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