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Pirates notebook: Lincoln will return to bullpen

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vs. Nationals

7:05 p.m. today, Nationals Park, Washington

TV/radio: Root Sports/KDKA-FM (93.7), XM 187

Probable pitchers: Pirates LHP Erik Bedard (2-4, 2.57) vs. Nationals LHP Gio Gonzalez (4-1, 1.94)

7:05 p.m. Thursday: Pirates RHP James McDonald (2-2, 2.42) vs. Nationals RHP Jordan Zimmermann (2-3, 2.14)

7:05 p.m. Friday: Pirates RHP Charlie Morton (2-3, 4.05) vs. Tigers RHP Justin Verlander (4-1, 2.47)

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012, 7:06 p.m.


After rest, Lincoln will return to bullpen

MIAMI — The short-term plans for RHP Brad Lincoln won't necessarily change just because he threw a gem Monday against the Marlins. Lincoln, who gave up two runs and four hits in six innings, will get two or three days off, then go back to the bullpen.

“I'm not getting that far ahead of myself,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said Tuesday. “I think we need to take things pretty much as they come. This is the best we've ever seen him. We've got five starters who are pretty competitive right now. He gives us great depth across the board.”

Hurdle added that Lincoln's fastball and breaking ball are good enough for him to pitch toward the back end of the bullpen.

“I joked with him last night,” Hurdle said. “I said, ‘We finally figured out how to get you in a good place. It's by letting you know nothing about what your role is, by keeping you absolutely outside the box and having you just reacting.' He laughed.”

• Left-hander Erik Bedard (back spasms) is ready to start today against the Washington Nationals. A week ago, he pitched just one inning before his back locked up. Bedard, who received two extra days' rest, threw a bullpen session without problem Monday.

• Right-hander Jeff Karstens (shoulder inflammation) will throw a one-inning simulated game today. “I want to see a little more intensity from him in the ‘sim' game,” pitching coach Ray Searage said. “Then, I want to see how he bounces back from that on Friday in a side session.” Karstens could begin a rehab stint next week with Double-A Altoona.

• In 2010, Andrew McCutchen went hitless in his first two games at Nationals Park. But in six games there since, he's gone 12 for 22 (.545) — including four doubles, two triples and a homer — with six RBI, five runs scored and a 1.045 slugging percentage.

• There could be a lot of whiffs today in the Pirates-Nationals game, as both starters rank among the top 10 in the National League in strikeouts per nine innings. Nats LHP Gio Gonzalez leads the league with 10.8 SO/9 IP. Bedard ranks seventh at 9.5 SO/9 IP.

— Rob Biertempfel

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