Instead of taking the ball for Triple-A Indianapolis as planned, the right-hander was taking a flight from Pawtucket, R.I., to Milwaukee, where he arrived roughly 2 1/2 hours before the series opener between the Pirates and Brewers at Miller Park. McCleary was recalled from Triple-A when the club placed reliever John Wasdin on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained right thumb.
"I'm just going to try and leave off where I left last year and keep it rolling," said McLeary, who was a pleasant surprise for the Pirates last September. "I'm in that long position in the bullpen, and I'm just going to try and stay sharp out there as much as I can, and when my name is called, I'm going to go out there and attack the zone."
Wasdin was sidelined after the latest in a long line of rough outings this season. Against the Cubs on Wednesday in the completion of a game that had been suspended due to Tuesday rainshowers, he was charged with two runs on four hits in two innings, allowing the Cubs to obtain the cushion they needed in an 8-6 victory. Overall, the 34-year-old has permitted 10 runs and 21 hits in 13 innings of work (6.21 ERA).
An MRI on Wasdin's thumb Wednesday showed no structural damage, though he did receive cortisone injections.
"He is experiencing pain in the joint area of his thumb, which has made it very difficult for him to throw his breaking ball," manager Jim Tracy said. "He can't snap his curveball off the way he wanted to."
The long reliever Wasdin made the team out of Spring Training after signing a Minor League contract in the offseason, but after recording two outs without allowing a run in each of his first two appearances with the Pirates this season, Wasdin has been scored upon in six of his next seven.
Tracy said the pain originated during an at-bat Wasdin made April 20 in Los Angeles, a lineout in the fourth inning with the Pirates down, 8-1. Wasdin also missed three weeks with the Rangers in 2006 with a sprained right thumb, sustained when he was struck by a comebacker.
McLeary got the news that he was headed to the parent club at 6 a.m. Thursday.
"I threw 104 pitches my last start, so I can go out there and suck up some innings," McLeary said. "I think that was one thing in my favor -- being one of the guys called up, because there's a lot of guys in the bullpen down there doing a heck of a job. Me being the guy who can be stretched out a little bit, I can fit in that role."
McLeary made his Major League debut in 2004 with San Diego, making three appearances, but never saw the big-league hill again until last August, when he was most impressive in his final two starts of the year.
The 32-year-old finished the year 2-0 with a 2.04 ERA in his work with the Pirates, including one run in 12 innings over those two starts. McLeary was 2-1 with a 2.57 ERA in four starts at Indianapolis this year.
JR Radcliffe is a contributor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.