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Pirates notebook: Pirates call up reliever Irwin; Locke sent to Triple-A

Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates pitcher Phil Irwin throws during a game against the Rays Thursday, March 13, 2014, at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Fla. To aid their depleted bullpen, the Pirates on Tuesday recalled Irwin from Triple-A Indianapolis. Irwin began the season in Indy’s rotation, but was moved to the bullpen after making two starts. He’s 1-2 with a 9.00 ERA and a 1.78 WHIP.

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By Karen Price and Rob Biertempfel
Tuesday, May 6, 2014, 2:54 p.m.

Right-hander Phil Irwin was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis on Tuesday to help the Pirates' overworked bullpen.

Irwin made two disastrous starts (0-1, 16.50 ERA) with Indianapolis to begin the season before he was switched to a relief role. He is 1-1 with a 5.25 ERA in 12 innings of relief (five appearances) and has been charged with one earned run in his past 9 13 innings. Irwin, who made his major league debut last April and underwent elbow surgery in July, had elbow trouble that limited his innings in spring training.

He said he feels good now.

“That may have had something to do with (the early-season struggles), maybe not, but I figured it out and I'm glad it all happened early instead of late,” Irwin said.

The 27-year-old said he's more aggressive as a reliever than he was as a starter preparing to face batters two and three times a game.

“I don't think about how far I have to go,” he said. “I pretty much face each hitter once, so I just throw exactly what I want to throw to them.”

Locke's start ‘very professional'

Jeff Locke's stint with the Pirates lasted less than 48 hours, so he didn't dwell on what it was like to be back in the majors.

“I didn't have a whole lot of time to think,” said Locke, who was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis. “I got into town (Sunday), pitched (Monday), and I'm headed right back out of town. I don't think a lot about it anyway.”

The left-hander's outing Monday against the Giants was a mixed bag. Locke struggled in the first and sixth innings, allowing six runs on eight hits. In between, he looked strong while retiring 13 straight.

Locke needed only 65 pitches (49 strikes) to get through 5 13 innings.

Hurdle called Locke's outing “a very professional performance” and very competitive despite the less-than-spectacular line.

“If we were able to get outs, then the line's completely different,” Hurdle said. “You can't always just look at the line. You look at the quality of what he did when he was on the mound. He mixed his pitches. The changeup came into play. He used the breaking ball, got the fastball inside for some called strikes and some swings and jam shots.”

Appeals heard

Russell Martin and Travis Snider had their suspension appeals heard at PNC Park on Tuesday afternoon. There was no immediate word of a decision. Martin (one game) and Snider (two games) were suspended for their parts in an altercation with the Brewers last month.

Minor notes

Wandy Rodriguez made a rehab start for Double-A Altoona and gave up seven runs on seven hits in the fourth inning. He went 5 13 innings, threw 93 pitches, walked three, struck out four and gave up two home runs. … Right-hander Vance Worley was promoted to Indianapolis from short-season Jamestown and made his debut at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Worley pitched six innings and gave up one run on five hits and struck out four.

Karen Price and Rob Biertempfel are staff writers for Trib Total Media.

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