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05/05/09 12:20 AM ET

Veal learning on bench for Bucs

Pittsburgh (12-13) vs. Milwaukee (14-12), 7:05 p.m. ET

PITTSBURGH -- As the Pirates finish this brief two-game series against the Brewers on Tuesday, reliever Donnie Veal will more than likely remain a spectator through the game's entirety.

The Pirates have made it no secret that they are going to spend the season hiding Veal in the bullpen. Veal, a Rule 5 Draft pick, made the team only because the Pirates would have lost him if he hadn't. He had never pitched above Double-A and still has some delivery issues to work out.

But as manager John Russell said: "It's a very valuable arm that we want in our system."

As a result, Veal's work continues to come almost exclusively pregame. Heading into Tuesday, it will have been 16 days since Veal last made an appearance. He's appeared in only two games this season, with his second outing coming after a 12-day layoff.

"It was a little frustrating earlier," Veal said. "It's not as bad now. I know the situation. I'm just trying to stay sharp and go out every day to do something early. I have to just stay fresh every day so that I'm ready when I get my chance."

It has been an adjustment for the 24-year-old lefty, who came up pitching every fifth day as a starter in the Minors. Now he works every afternoon with pitching coach Joe Kerrigan in order to expedite his development.

The two have focused on making sure Veal maintains a lower arm slot and calms his body down on the follow-through. The work is going well, both Veal and Russell say, but it's been impossible to gauge how it plays out in a game situation since Veal hasn't had that chance.

"It is different being in a game versus a controlled bullpen, but we've talked about it a lot, and essentially, I can just do the same thing," Veal said. "In my second outing after 12 days off, I still got a little excited, almost like it was my first time all over. I just can't let that kind of stuff creep in."

In his three innings this season, Veal has walked seven, but allowed only two runs to score. He has three strikeouts.

"It's a double-edged sword," Russell said. "Yeah, we'd like to try and get him in a game. But as long as he's getting the work, I think that's the most important thing. I think just the experience of being here is a good thing for him."

The Pirates have been fortunate to be able to keep Veal out of games that aren't blowouts. There hasn't been too heavy a burden on the other six pitchers in the 'pen, because the starters have been able to pitch deep into games consistently.

Assuming that continues, Veal plans to continue watching, listening and learning.

"I'm able to see a lot of things and learn a lot from the guys in the bullpen," Veal said. "I'm sitting there almost like the backup quarterback. I'm just learning from those guys about pitching in different situations, how to get yourself prepared. I think that's been the biggest thing for me."

Pitching matchup
PIT: RHP Ian Snell (1-3, 3.72 ERA)
Snell was the tough-luck loser in his last start, allowing just five hits and one run in seven strong innings in a 1-0 setback at Milwaukee on Wednesday. The right-hander appeared to get stronger as the game went on and tallied a 131 pitches. Snell gave up a solo home run to Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo for the game's only run. Working with a fastball in the 87-93 mph range in the early innings, Snell dialed it up to 95 mph late in the game.

MIL: RHP Jeff Suppan (1-2, 5.88 ERA)
Suppan says the only things that have changed since his ugly outing against the Cubs on April 12 are the results. But those results speak for themselves -- over his past three starts, he's limited opponents to six runs in 18 1/3 innings for a 2.95 ERA, much better than the 11 runs he allowed in his first 7 2/3 innings and two starts. He didn't face the Pirates when they visited Milwaukee last week, but he's 12-3 against them in his career with a 4.20 ERA.

Bucs bits
With their loss to the Brewers on Monday, the Pirates are now 1-6 in their past seven games against clubs in the division. They are 5-11 against the National League Central overall. ... Even though the Brewers have had the Pirates' number as of late, Pittsburgh has actually defeated the Brewers 43 times at PNC Park. That's the most wins the club has over any team there.

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Up next
• Wednesday: Pirates (Zach Duke, 3-2, 2.21) at Cardinals (Mitchell Boggs, 1-0, 3.29), 8:15 p.m. ET
• Thursday: Pirates (Ross Ohlendorf, 3-2, 3.48) at Cardinals (Todd Wellemeyer, 2-2, 5.28), 1:40 p.m. ET
• Friday: Pirates (Jeff Karstens, 1-1, 5.85) at Mets (Ken Takahashi, 0-0, 0.00), 7:10 p.m. ET

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.