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Depth allows Bucs to navigate 'pen with ease

Depth allows Bucs to navigate 'pen with ease

Depth allows Bucs to navigate 'pen with ease

SEATTLE -- There was nothing particularly newsworthy about the roster move the Pirates had to make Wednesday morning -- returning reliever Duke Welker to Indianapolis and turning over his roster spot to the day's starting pitcher, Jeanmar Gomez -- but, at the same time, it was revealing.

It highlighted the organizational bullpen depth on a couple of levels.

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On the short end, the Bucs felt comfortable optioning out a guy who had retired all four men he faced with a mixture of 96-mph fastballs and 89-mph sliders.

"I think everyone went, 'Yeah. Good for him, good for us.' He's got a nice arsenal he's worked hard to command," manager Clint Hurdle said. "I'm proud of him. He's a homegrown kid who has had to persevere and work hard to get closer to this opportunity."

On the longer end, Gomez's return to the rotation brought to mind his original job on the staff -- long man in the bullpen -- and how effectively the Pirates were able to replace that important role.

The key there has been Bryan Morris, who around three rides on the Indianapolis shuttle has made 10 multiple-innings appearances.

Along with Justin Wilson, Vin Mazzaro and Tony Watson, that gives the Pirates a quartet of long relievers, which Hurdle considers a tremendous asset.

"Not too many teams have [only] two one-inning pitchers," Hurdle said, referring to Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli. "Most are limited by having four, five. Those multiple-inning guys give us a tremendously different look."

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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