Karstens to return to Pirates' rotation
Pirates right-hander Jeff Karstens (hip/shoulder) will start against the Phillies tonight at Citizens Bank Park, while Brad Lincoln is returning to the bullpen despite his strong outing Saturday.
Karstens (0-1, 4.50 ERA), on the disabled list since mid-April, was scratched from Sunday's scheduled rehab start at Triple-A Indianapolis. He threw seven innings of one-run ball in his final rehab start at Altoona, followed by encouraging bullpen work.
“I'm happy about it, and I'm just trying to keep this team doing what they are doing,” Karstens said. “It was probably the best bullpen that I threw from spring training throughout the whole year as far as what I wanted to do with the baseball.”
Everyone in the rotation will be pushed back one day — Erik Bedard (Tuesday), James McDonald (Wednesday), A.J. Burnett (Thursday) and Kevin Correia in the series opener Friday at St. Louis.
Meanwhile, Lincoln, coming off a six-inning, one-run effort in a 4-1 win over the Tigers on Saturday, remains the odd-man out. Manager Clint Hurdle said he's sticking with a five-man rotation.
• Oft-traveled Drew Sutton is back with the Pirates, and this time, he'll stay a little longer. The switch-hitting utilityman, acquired and then traded by the Pirates on consecutive days last month, rejoined the team after being claimed on waivers from Tampa Bay. Shortstop Jordy Mercer was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis, reliever Bryan Morris was promoted from Indy and Charlie Morton, coming off Tommy John surgery, was moved to the 60-day DL. Sutton, who turns 29 on Saturday, hit .271 with six RBI in 18 games for the Rays.
• Neil Walker, who had started 52 games in a row and played in a team-high 69 games, was given a rare day off yesterday. Walker hadn't rested since the second game of an April 25 doubleheader. He was hitless in six career at-bats against Tigers starter Justin Verlander. Josh Harrison started at second base, and with Walker out, Pedro Alvarez moved up one spot to No. 5 in the batting order.
• General manager Neal Huntington said he remains optimistic about signing first-rounder Mark Appel, a right-hander from Stanford. “We would love to add an arm like that to our system,” Huntington said. “We understand that he may not have gone where he wanted to go. But we believe we are a great system for him to reach his potential, and we are doing everything in our power to get him in a Pirates uniform.”
— John Grupp
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