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Pirates notebook: Healthy Hawpe had incentive to sign with team

| Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013, 5:09 p.m.
Christopher Horner
Pirates pitcher Jeff Karstens talks with head athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk in the bullpen Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Christopher Horner
Pirates outfielder Brad Hawpe waits to take batting practice at Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Christopher Horner
Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen waits to take batting practice Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Christopher Horner
Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen waits to take batting practice Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Christopher Horner
Pirates pitcher A.J. Burnett, right, sits with Gerrit Cole after they pitched live batting practice Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013, at Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle on Wednesday named Burnett his Opening Day staring pitcher. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review

BRADENTON, Fla. — Regardless of whether his spring training tryout nets him a job with the Pirates, Brad Hawpe is happy just to be healthy again.

“At some point, the game ends for everybody,” Hawpe, 33, said Tuesday. “I don't want it to be because of injuries. I want it to be because I just couldn't play anymore.”

Hawpe hasn't been fully healthy since late June 2010, when he was an All-Star right fielder with the Colorado Rockies. He ran into the brick wall in right field at Angel Stadium while chasing a foul ball and broke a rib.

“The manager (Jim Tracy) asked me to fight through it and play,” Hawpe said. “I did and my performance suffered.”

Hawpe sat out the next two games then hit just .203 after returning to action. The Rockies abruptly released him Aug. 18, 2010. Hawpe was picked up by Tampa Bay, but batted .179 in 15 games.

In 2011, he signed a $2 million deal with San Diego. Hawpe got just 195 at-bats with the Padres before having season-ending Tommy John surgery on his left elbow. “I'm sure it was correlated (to the rib injury),” Hawpe said.

The Padres declined Hawpe's option for 2013, making him a free agent. He was lured to accept a minor-league deal with a non-roster invite to spring training by manager Clint Hurdle. Hawpe played for Hurdle with the Rockies from 2004-09.

“I'd been talking to some other teams,” Hawpe said. “But when Clint called, there was no question what I was going to do. This is a team that's been close to winning some games late in the year that matter. I know what Hurdle can do with teams like that.”

Karstens sore

Right-handed pitcher Jeff Karstens has soreness in his upper right biceps near the shoulder and won't throw off the mound for the next couple of days.

An MRI was deemed not necessary at this point, he said. Karstens is able to play catch and soft toss.

“I want to play it smart,” he said. “I'm not sure what caused it. Maybe the cold weather the past few days had something to do with it.”

Taillon likely to getstart for Canada

Pitcher Jameson Taillon likely will start March 10 for Canada against the Team USA in the opening round of the World Baseball Classic.

“It's going to be a cool experience,” Taillon said. “They've got a pretty good lineup, so it will be a challenge.” Taillon will face a squad that includes Ryan Braun, David Wright, Jimmy Rollins, Mark Teixeira, Joe Mauer and Brandon Phillips.

Hurdle's deal official

The Pirates officially announced they picked up Hurdle's contract option for 2014 and added a club option for 2015.

“I'm very humbled, and I'm looking forward to the challenge in front of us,” Hurdle said.

The Pirates initiated contract talks by calling Hurdle about a week ago.

“There wasn't a lot of negotiating,” Hurdle said.

GM Neal Huntington said it was “the right time” to extend the contract by a year. But why only one year?

“We feel it's a good match with my (contract) situation,” Huntington said. “It's a good match for where we are right now. Clint is not afraid to manage on a one- or two-year deal. It was something we were all most comfortable with.”

Rob Biertempfiel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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