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Pirates notebook: Karstens' rehab could end Sunday

Rob Biertempfel
| Friday, June 22, 2012, 6:36 p.m.
Pirates starter James McDonald delivers during the third inning against the Twins on Thursday, June 21, 2012 at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Christopher Horner
Pirates starter James McDonald delivers during the third inning against the Twins on Thursday, June 21, 2012 at PNC Park. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review

Pirates right-hander Jeff Karstens (hip, shoulder) is slated to pitch for Triple-A Indianapolis on Sunday in what most likely will be his final rehab start. He threw 78 pitches in his most recent outing Tuesday for Double-A Altoona and expects to ramp it up to around 95 this time.

Righty Brad Lincoln will make another spot start today against Detroit. He is 1-2 with a 7.64 ERA in four starts. The Pirates have not named their starter for Thursday at Philadelphia.

“We did that to get you (reporters) to ask questions,” manager Clint Hurdle joked. “I've got no answer for you. It's TBA right now. We're thinking through things and trying to weigh all our options, how we might be best served moving forward. There are a lot of things that could figure into it.”

General manager Neal Huntington said Lincoln has not been ruled out to start Thursday, but Karstens is not a candidate because he'd be working on three days' rest.

• On Thursday, James McDonald notched his first complete game and was responsible for seven Twins reaching base (six hits and one hit by pitch). According to Elias, McDonald has had fewer batters reach base via walks, hits or HBP — errors are not factored into the equation — than innings pitched in eight starts this year. That ties him with R.A. Dickey, Jake Peavy and Jered Weaver for the major league lead.

• Catcher Rod Barajas had a special moment Thursday when he clubbed a two-run homer as his four sons looked on from a suite at PNC Park. “I didn't look up there when I reached the plate, but somebody told me they were all jumping around, cheering and taking big home run swings,” he said.

• It was a little surprising earlier this week to hear trade rumors linking the Pirates to Arizona lefty Joe Saunders. The Pirates wouldn't pass on a pitcher if the right deal is offered, but the club has other priorities. “We'd like to first look for a way to impact the offense because we're in a competitive position off the mound,” Hurdle said. The Pirates will be buyers at the July 31 trade deadline, but Hurdle said he doesn't expect much to happen for a while.

• Twenty-four kids ages 7-14 will participate in the Pirates' championship of the Pitch, Hit and Run program today at PNC Park. The top three scorers in each age and gender group from each club advance to the national finals during All-Star week in Kansas City, Mo.

— Rob Biertempfel

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