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Pirates notebook: Karstens still working out as a starter

Rob Biertempfel
| Friday, April 26, 2013, 7:15 p.m.
Pirates pitcher Jeff Karstens throws in the bullpen during the 2013 spring training at Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates pitcher Jeff Karstens throws in the bullpen during the 2013 spring training at Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla.

ST. LOUIS — Right-hander Jeff Karstens (shoulder inflammation) threw a bullpen session Friday at Busch Stadium. His next full workout is set for Wednesday, probably in extended spring training in Bradenton, Fla.

“I'm eager to get down to Florida,” Karstens said.

There doesn't appear to be a firm timetable for when Karstens will be able to rejoin the Pirates. He's been sidelined since midway through spring training.

Also undetermined is what role Karstens will have when he is back in action. Although the rotation will be crowded when Francisco Liriano and Charlie Morton finish their rehabs in early May, management still plans to stretch out Karstens as a starter.

“We'll see where he can take the pitch count, what workload is he capable of carrying,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “If he's able to add on, we're going to keep adding on.

“Initially, we're continuing to think of him as a starter at this point just because there is so much more value in having starting pitching. Even with Liriano and Morton coming, that old saying about you can never have too much (pitching) rings true.”

Friday, Karstens threw 40 pitches, including breaking balls. He said he had good velocity and movement when facing Jose Tabata, Gaby Sanchez and John McDonald.

“Not bad for his first day,” Tabata said.

Liriano needs to swing

Liriano (broken non-pitching arm) gave up one run in five innings Thursday for Class AAA Indianapolis. The left-hander allowed four hits and got eight strikeouts and remains on track to make his Pirates debut May 10.

“What needs to be ramped up is him swinging the bat and bunting,” Hurdle said. “We need to see where he is with that. We want him to be able to do it, but we don't want it to hinder the pitching.”

Morton will make a rehab start Sunday for Indy.

Contreras is close

Reliever Jose Contreras (elbow surgery) could join the bullpen next week, Hurdle said. Friday, Contreras was moved up to Triple-A Indianapolis to begin the next phase of his rehab assignment. He's scheduled to pitch Sunday and Monday then rest two days. If all goes well, he'll be with the Pirates when they open a homestand May 3 against the Washington Nationals.

Scoring change

Starling Marte's triple in the ninth inning Wednesday was changed Friday to a three-base error by Phillies second baseman Chase Utley. Marte lost an RBI in the transaction. That also drops Marte's multi-hit game total this season to 10, which is still the most by a Pirate over the first 22 games since Jack Wilson had 11 in 2002.

Freak Show redux?

The Pirates rallied in the final three innings in each of the final two games of the four-game set against Philadelphia. According to Elias Sports Bureau, the only other team in the past 60 years to win two straight in that fashion on the road against the Phillies was the New York Mets on May 8-9, 2012.

According to Elias, it was the first time the Pirates won two games in a row on the road when trailing in the seventh inning or later since July 4-5, 1997, at St. Louis. That was the season dubbed the “Freak Show” by broadcaster Greg Brown; the Pirates were in the division race until the final week and finished 79-83.

Cards lose backup 1B Adams

The Cardinals put Slippery Rock product Matt Adams on the 15-day disabled list due to a strained right oblique. The move was retroactive to April 22.

Adams was batting .542 with three home runs and a 1.042 slugging percentage in eight games.

The Cardinals called up Jermaine Curtis, 25, from Triple-A Memphis. Curtis hit .292 with a team-high 17 RBI in 17 games for Memphis. He was the Cardinals' fifth-round pick in 2008.

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