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07/10/08 6:46 PM ET

Pirates recall Munoz from Double-A

Righty Van Benschoten optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis

PITTSBURGH -- General manager Neal Huntington called the move "one step short of desperation".

When the Pirates recalled right-hander Luis Munoz from Double-A Altoona on Thursday morning, it wasn't so much that Munoz earned a spot on the big league team. It had more to do with the fact the Pirates urgently needed another arm to help close out the first half of the 2008 season.

"He has not developed to what we think is a big league pitcher," Huntington said of Munoz. "Our pitching staff is taking a beating here as of late."

The Pirates selected Munoz above other pitchers in the organization because of his availability. The 26-year-old right-hander was scheduled to start for Altoona on Thursday, which means he is well-rested in case starter Paul Maholm leaves the Pirates' game against the Yankees earlier than expected.

"We had to make sure we didn't overexpose the rest of our bullpen," Huntington said. "I would not expect Luis being here for an extended period of time."

Pittsburgh optioned right-hander John Van Benschoten to Triple-A Indianapolis to make room for Munoz. Van Benschoten struggled through 4 2/3 innings on Wednesday night, allowing four runs on seven hits in the Pirates' 6-4 loss to the Astros.

Munoz began the 2008 season with Indianapolis and went 3-3 with a 5.45 ERA in 13 games, including 12 starts.

Munoz, who has no Major League experience, was later demoted to Altoona, where he went 1-2 with a 5.09 ERA in four starts. His most recent outing came on July 5, when he threw five scoreless innings against Double-A Harrisburg.

Munoz was already on the Pirates' 40-man roster.

"If it gets to a situation we're we have to pitch him, then we will," manager John Russell said.

Todd Krise is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.