Bucs’ Duke placed on disabled list with sore elbow

He will have tests today to determine if there is any structural damage.

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pirates left-hander Zach Duke was placed on the 15-day disabled list Sunday after skipping a planned throwing session, and will have tests today on his sore left elbow.

Duke, who has slumped following a breakout rookie season in 2005, has been bothered by tightness in the elbow that was apparently caused by tendinitis. The tests Monday will determine whether there is any structural damage inside Duke’s elbow.

“I still felt the same, so there wasn’t any reason for me to throw today,” Duke said. “It’s scary to have to miss time in the rotation like this. This is my first time with something like this. I’ve never gone through this before.”

Duke (3-7, 5.79 ERA) will be replaced in the starting rotation Tuesday against Milwaukee by right-hander Shane Youman, who is 4-6 with a 4.70 ERA in 15 starts at Triple-A Indianapolis. Youman was 0-2 with a 2.91 ERA in five Pirates games late last season.

Effective only sporadically

Duke, the Pirates’ opening-day starter in Houston, has been effective only sporadically. He allowed five runs or more in six of his last eight starts, not lasting more than six innings in any of the eight.

Duke gave up six runs and 12 hits in four innings of a 9-7 loss to Florida on Thursday. His 141 hits allowed are easily the most in the majors and opposing hitters are hitting .364 against him — an average that would be the highest in the NL by an individual hitter. He has given up 10 homers.

Still, neither the Pirates nor Duke disclosed there was any potential serious problem in the elbow until Friday. Until then, there was speculation Duke might be sent to Triple-A to work out his problems.

“This is uncharted territory for me,” Duke said. “I just want to get back as fast as I can.”

Duke has struggled to control his breaking ball since his standout rookie season, when he was 8-2 with a 1.81 ERA following a mid-season call-up. He is 13-22 since then, giving up a major-league high 396 hits in 3082⁄3 innings.

Don't Miss a Story

Sign up for our newsletter to receive daily news directly in your inbox.