Pirates notebook: Karstens throws live BP

| Friday, March 8, 2013, 8:00 p.m.

Jeff Karstens said his two innings of live batting practice at Pirate City went well, especially after they took away the protective L screen for the second inning. “The competitive juices started flowing a little more,” he said. “It just changes everything.” The simulated game action gave Karstens a chance to gauge how his stuff is playing, he said, and he was encouraged by his ability to snap off some curveballs during the session. Providing everything feels OK on Saturday, the next step will be to throw a bullpen Monday then hopefully return to game action.

Garrett Jones, scratched from Thursday's game because of a sore left oblique, said he felt a little better Friday. Jones took part in limited activity but hopes to return to swinging the bat Saturday.

Jason Grilli told reporters at the World Baseball Classic that it's been fun watching his Italian teammates adapt to the big league experience. “It's kind of like when you see a rookie come up and rally around that guy that's getting his major league debut,” Grilli said. “This is their big-league debut for some of these guys. And everybody's embraced it entirely.”

Chris Leroux, who is with Canada in the WBC, said the torn pectoral muscle he suffered last year, and the drop in velocity during his rehabilitation, forced him to change his pitching. “I think last year I learned how to pitch a little bit more,” he said. “I used my slider a lot more effectively. But I worked my butt off this offseason to get everything back, and I'm back to my 2011 form.”

— Karen Price

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