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Pirates notebook: Karstens on starting pitcher's schedule

| Wednesday, March 13, 2013, 10:03 a.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates pitcher Jeff Karstens throws in the bullpen at Pirate City on March 8, 2013, in Bradenton, Fla.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates first baseman Matt Hague doubles in front of Baltimore catcher Matt Wieters, Sunday, March 10, 2013, at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Fla. Hague was optioned to AAA Indianapolis on Wednesday.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates pitcher Jeff Karstens throws in the bullpen at Pirate City on Wednesday, March 8, 2013, in Bradenton, Fla.

BRADENTON, Fla. — Jeff Karstens is back on a starting pitcher's schedule even if he's not yet all the way back into the Pirates' starting rotation.

Wednesday, Karstens (biceps tightness) worked two innings in a minor league game. The right-hander is scheduled to throw a normal side session in a couple of days then pitch again Monday with a 50-pitch limit in a minor league game.

“If things go according to schedule, he's on track to start (the regular season) with us,” general manager Neal Huntington said.

Karstens gave up a hit to the first batter he faced, picked him off then retired the next five batters. At that point, he'd thrown just 20 pitches, so he tossed another 15 in a bullpen workout.

“It was nice to get those competitive juices flowing again,” Karstens said. “My fastball command wasn't great. But if I could box up my curveball and take it with me right now, I would. I wish it was that easy.”

Planet of the aches

Tony Watson has not pitched in a game since Feb. 28 because of what he described as “physical and mechanical issues.” The left-handed reliever said he “didn't feel right” on the mound.

The past few days, Watson has thrown side sessions off the mound and from the slope of the mound. Manager Clint Hurdle said there's a chance Watson could pitch Sunday against the New York Yankees.

Watson has been durable throughout his career. His last major health issue occurred in 2009 when he was a starting pitcher in Double-A and sat out most of the season with elbow tendinitis.

Infielder Chase d'Arnaud, who injured his left thumb Saturday, is scheduled to see a specialist. Asked when d'Arnaud will be examined or if an MRI already has been performed, Hurdle refused to provide any details.

Garrett Jones (oblique) swung in the batting cage and played catch Wednesday. He's scheduled to try live batting practice Thursday.

Hague stuck in line

After his demotion Wednesday, Matt Hague might not fit in the Pirates' long-term plans.

Last spring, Hague was a surprise story in camp when he batted .400 with seven home runs. He made the Opening Day roster but appeared in only 30 games for the Pirates and eventually was dropped from the 40-man roster.

Hague played first base with the Pirates but started getting more work at third after being sent back to Triple-A Indianapolis. He was used at both spots this spring.

“He's going to work a lot at third base (this year) depending on the makeup of the (Indy) club,” Huntington said. “We need him to do a ton of work pregame. We'll work to get him some game opportunities, but we've got to see who else is down there.”

Hague came to camp in great shape. He dropped about 12 pounds over the winter while working out in Pittsburgh and Seattle with a combination of weight training, agility drills and yoga.

“I've been lifting weights since I was about 14. I just didn't necessarily have the best diet,” Hague said with a laugh. “Last year I was overweight, plain and simple. It affected my play a little.”

Around the horn

RHP Chris Leroux, who pitched for Canada in the World Baseball Classic, was ensnared in the on-field scuffle after the 10-3 win against Mexico. Leroux said he was the intended target of a bottle thrown by fan, which wound up hitting pitching coach Denis Boucher in the face. “We had a police escort back to the hotel,” Leroux said. “There were Mexican fans outside waiting for us. It was kind of scary for a couple of hours, but then it (died down).” ... LHP Wandy Rodriguez is still with the Dominican Republic team in the WBC. ... The Pirates released LHP Aaron Pordea, who made just three starts last season a Double-A Altoona because of a sore shoulder. The Pirates claimed Poreda, a first-round pick in 2007, in the 2011 Rule 5 draft.

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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