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Welker called up as Bucs face his hometown team

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PITTSBURGH -- Duke Welker's first day in the Major Leagues just had to come with the Seattle Mariners in the opposite dugout.

The Pirates recalled the right-hander from Indianapolis on Wednesday, much to the relief of the Triple-A hitters who have spent a month trying to hit him unsuccessfully. Infielder Josh Harrison was optioned back to the Indians to make room for Welker.

Not only is the reliever a native of Kirkland, Wash., a community neighboring Seattle, but he was twice drafted by the Mariners before the Pirates took him in the second round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft.

However, as that long ensuing wait implies, the opposition was secondary to Welker finally reaching the Majors.

"It is kinda funny that it's Seattle," said Welker, trying on his new No. 61 uniform in the Pirates' clubhouse. "But I just want to win, so it doesn't really matter."

Welker's first emotional phone call upon being notified of his promotion Tuesday night had been to his dad.

"To be able to say to your dad that I'm going to the Majors, it's kinda cool," Welker said. "I haven't really relished the experience yet. I'm taking it in stride.

"I just know I'm here and have a good opportunity with a great team and a good group of guys. I'm just excited to be here. I don't know when it'll hit me."

No one was hitting Welker in Indianapolis, where he held the opposition to three hits in 48 at-bats. In 10 relief appearances, he was 3-0 and didn't give up a single earned run, with 20 strikeouts and eight walks in 16 innings.

That performance crowned his remarkable rise from what appeared to be a failed career as a starter four years ago. From 2007-09, Welker went 6-26 with a five-plus ERA.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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