DETROIT -- Apparently, there was a reason Jose Contreras had difficulty throwing strikes during his costly relief appearance in Monday's 6-5 loss to the Tigers: He couldn't bow his back -- a baseball euphemism for giving extra effort.
The Pirates on Tuesday placed Contreras on the 15-day disabled list with inflammation in his lower back. To take his place, right-hander Bryan Morris was recalled from Indianapolis, where he had been optioned only Monday morning.
Taking over in the seventh inning of a game the Bucs trailed, 4-3, Contreras allowed two runs, one on a bases-loaded walk, one of four passes he issued. Thus the Pirates' ensuing two-run rally in the eighth wasn't enough for a comeback win.
Contreras joined the Pirates earlier this month after completing his rehab from last June's Tommy John surgery. He has appeared in seven games, with five strikeouts and six walks in five innings.
Morris returns hoping to pick up where he left off. The former No. 1 Draft choice (2006, by the Dodgers) has made 11 relief appearances for the Bucs, with a 1-2 record and 3.45 ERA in 15 2/3 innings.
Young Bucs sweep up Minors' weekly honors
DETROIT -- Players in the Pirates organization dominated Minor League play last week, collecting a trio of Player of the Week awards.
Matt Hague, who saw extensive action with the '12 Bucs, led off the haul as Player of the Week in the Triple-A International League after collecting seven extra-base blows among his eight hits for the week.
Stetson Allie, the former pitching prospect who transitioned to the other side of the ball less than a year ago, keeps racking up offensive awards. West Virginia's DH/first baseman was named the Double-A South Atlantic League's Player of the Week for after batting .517 with 15 RBIs.
It's the second POW award of the season for Allie, a No. 2 pick as a pitcher in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft who resurfaced as a position player last June. For the season he is hitting .340 with 13 homers and 47 RBIs in 49 games.
Finally, shortstop Alen Hanson picked up the Class A Florida State League Player of the Week award after going 9-for-21.
Inge gets taste of his own medicine vs. Tigers
DETROIT -- Getting back the way he used to give, Brandon Inge fell victim to a gumball ambush by his former Tigers teammates during Monday's game at Comerica Park.
Showering guys -- both on his team and the other -- with gumballs was a favorite of prankster Inge, and he got some of his own medicine while playing third base, within easy reach of the Tigers' dugout.
To hear Inge tell it, the pelters -- Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrera among them -- were getting more on the gumballs than Justin Verlander was getting on his pitches.
A late addition to the lineup when Starling Marte withdrew because of migraine symptoms, Inge got to face Verlander for the first time after having played behind him for years.
"He's pretty good," Inge deadpanned. "I remember his fastball being a lot faster than that. Of course, it was 100 [mph] back then. I really saw only two fastballs. I think he was scared of me, so he threw me all offspeed stuff."
Inge went hitless in three at-bats against Verlander, with two of the ace's 13 strikeouts.
Barmes effusive with praise for Sanchez
DETROIT -- Clint Barmes admits having been spoiled by all the seasons he spent in Colorado making his throws from shortstop to three-time Gold Glove-winning first baseman Todd Helton.
"With Helton I knew if I had to rush a throw, all I had to do was throw it hard at his feet. If the ball was close to him, he'd get it," said Barmes, who is finding the same security in Gaby Sanchez.
Garrett Jones, the Bucs' other frequent first baseman, can pick it himself. In particular, Jones made two terrific digs of throws in the dirt by third baseman Pedro Alvarez on difficult plays during a 1-0 victory over the Cubs last Wednesday.
But Sanchez has stood out during this road trip by repeatedly scooping up low throws from shortstop. Barmes owes his error-free trip to Sanchez's quick hands.
"He definitely has great hands," Barmes said. "He's saved me a ton of times this season. It's so important to have someone so solid at the position. He makes you relax, and gives you confidence when you have to make a play in a hurry."
First number, last word
.260: Miguel Cabrera's career average at PNC Park, where the Pirates-Tigers action resumes on Wednesday night. The ex-Marlin has homered three times in 24 games by the shores of the Allegheny.
"What a humbling experience before the game, sharing the field with so many men and women who have served this country to protect our freedom." -- outfielder Travis Snider, on ceremonies preceding the Memorial Day game between the Pirates and the Tigers
• Marte was back in the lineup on Tuesday, feeling better after receiving medical treatment for the migraine symptoms that forced him to be scratched on Monday. Marte has suffered from migraines in the past and is confident in what he needs to do to deal with them.
• James McDonald's rehab assignment for Double-A Altoona got off to a rocky start on Monday night, as the right-hander, fighting back from discomfort in his shoulder, could not get out of the first inning. Facing Richmond, he allowed three runs on two hits and four walks while making 33 pitches in two-thirds of an inning.
• Charlie Morton's return to the rehab mound was smoother, as he reached his target of five innings with Indianapolis, against Pawtucket. He was originally due for only one more rehab start, but the Pirates may decided to have him make a few more after he gave up seven hits and three walks while allowing five runs (four earned).
• Also hitting the rehab trail on Monday night was infielder John McDonald (lower back and elbow), who went 0-for-3 while starting at second base for the Indians.
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.