BRADENTON, Fla. -— Right-hander Jeff Karstens is not the favorite to win the No. 5 spot in the Pirates' starting rotation, but he still has a valuable role to fill.
"He's in the mix, but right now he's on the outside looking in," general manager Neal Huntington said. "He provides us a tremendous insurance policy if Scott Olsen's hamstring (injury) lingers and he can't start the season healthy or if Charlie Morton isn't ready to take that job."
Olsen has been out with a hamstring injury since last week. He did not throw during Tuesday's workouts and is not scheduled to pitch Wednesday.
Karstens will be treated as a starter, especially early in spring training, and will build up innings.
"We'll be putting (Karstens) out there a little more frequently so we can evaluate how he can help us," Huntington said. "Later, we can either push him deeper into games (as a starter) or get him more prepared to come out of the bullpen."
The issue with Karstens, 28, is durability.
"Sometimes, he got to the sixth or seventh inning and seemed to hit a wall," Huntington said. "Can he put up 180-200 innings (in a season)• That's a question we've got to answer."
Last season, Karstens went 3-10 with a 4.92 ERA. He pitched in 26 games (19 starts) and amassed a career-high 122 2⁄3 innings.
In the offseason, he avoided arbitration by signing a one-year, $1.1 million contract.
Pirates Spring Training 2011
Images from Pirates spring training in Bradenton, Florida.
By the numbers
Jeff Karstens' career stats in the majors:
2006 (Yankees): 3.80 ERA, 8 games, 6 starts, 42.2 innings pitched
2007 (Yankees): 11.05 ERA, 7 games, 3 starts, 14.2 innings pitched
2008 (Pirates): 4.03 ERA, 9 games, 9 starts, 51.1 innings pitched
2009 (Pirates): 5.42 ERA, 39 games, 13 starts, 108.0 innings pitched
2010 (Pirates): 4.92 ERA, 26 games, 19 starts, 122.2 innings pitched
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.