Pirates Notebook: Karstens fined for hitting Braun

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Pirates starter Jeff Karstens was fined an undisclosed amount of money by Major League Baseball for hitting the Milwaukee Brewers' Ryan Braun with a pitch Monday at Miller Park, according to a team source, but Karstens will not be suspended.

Karstens was fined without having a hearing to tell his side, and he maintained yesterday that he did not intend to hit Braun, who had homered in his previous at-bat.

"It came in and ran up," Karstens said of the pitch that hit Braun between the shoulder blades as he turned his back toward the mound. "No way I'm doing that with Prince Fielder on deck, and about four other guys who can hit the ball out of the park."

There was no word on whether Braun was punished for publicly vowing retribution against the Pirates the next day, including a warning to MLB commissioner Bud Selig to pay close attention to future meetings. Or whether Milwaukee starter Dave Bush was punished for hitting three Pirates' batters that same day.

The Pirates and Brewers begin a two-game series Monday at PNC Park.

Russell on pitch counts

Pirates manager John Russell expanded on his decision to allow Ian Snell to throw 131 pitches -- most by any starter in the majors this season -- Wednesday.

"You look at a lot of factors, how the ball's coming out of his hand, whether he's starting to elevate, a lack of velocity, a lack of shape to the breaking ball. In Ian's case, he was doing very well, and you take all that into account," Russell said. "Joe Kerrigan and I were in constant communication, but it was Ian's game. We'll do that. You look at how many 100-plus pitch games we've had already, our guys are doing a good job getting deep into games."

Kerrigan is the pitching coach.

The Pirates' starters have thrown 100 or more pitches eight times, 110 or more four times.

"We're not looking to let the pitch until they drop," Russell continued. "The season's a marathon. We'll adjust workloads between starts, and the extra days off that you get early certainly help. But we're going to give our starters a chance to win."

McLouth returns

Center fielder Nate McLouth was back in the lineup after missing six games to a strained right oblique.

"I never thought it was that bad, but everyone wanted to play it safe," McLouth said.

He and the team used a whirlpool, electrical stimulation and "pretty much anything we could find" to accelerate his return. A special batting practice early yesterday brought final clearance.

Buried treasure

• Injured shortstop Jack Wilson is doing some light swinging of the bat and spent some afternoon time on the field with infield instructor Perry Hill.

• The Pirates looked at video of Bush's back-to-back plunking of Eric Hinske and Andy LaRoche Tuesday, and there is a general consensus that LaRoche was not hit on purpose, with Brewers catcher Jason Kendall having lined up well outside.

• Brandon Moss, owner of one RBI, was benched for the third time in six games, but Russell stressed that was because Hinske had a .478 career average against Cincinnati starter Bronson Arroyo. "Brandon's coming around," Russell said. "He's a big part of our offense, and we need to get him going."

Dejan Kovacevic can be reached at dkovacevic@post-gazette.com . Catch more on the Pirates and join the discussion at the PBC Blog .


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