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Veal to have Tommy John surgery

| Friday, June 4, 2010

Donnie Veal, one of the top left-handed pitcher prospects in the Pirates' minor-league system, will have Tommy John surgery.

Dr. James Andrews examined Veal on Thursday and diagnosed a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow. Andrews is slated to perform reconstructive surgery this morning.

Veal, who will turn 26 in September, is expected to be out eight to 12 months.

"You can't be mad about it or sad about it," Veal said. "I'll have the surgery, rehab it and then I'll be back — stronger and healthier than before."

A Rule 5 pick in 2009, Veal spent last season in the Pirates' bullpen and went 1-0 with a 7.16 ERA in 16 1/3 innings. The Pirates locked up his rights by keeping him on their major-league roster all season.

Veal was switched back to a starting role and was impressive in the Arizona Fall League, going 3-1 with a 2.14 ERA. At Triple-A Indianapolis this season, he was 3-2 with a 4.35 ERA. The rap on Veal has been poor control, but he showed improvement: He had 41 strikeouts and 23 walks in 49 2/3 innings.

During his next-to-last start May 18, Veal noticed tightness in his elbow and left the game after seven innings. The pain diminished, and he made his final start May 23.

But the pain returned stronger than before, and Veal gave up three runs on four hits in five innings. After being checked again, Veal was shut down.

"I didn't think it was that bad," he said. "I didn't hear a pop or anything, and I was still able to throw every day. But after I had the MRI (exam), we found out (the ligament) was torn."

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