Pirates Notebook: Ohlendorf likely for 1-2 starts

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The Pirates do not have a firm target for when they will shut down Ross Ohlendorf, their best pitcher of late, but it probably will be after two or three more starts.

If Ohlendorf took a regular turn in the team's six-man rotation, he probably would pitch five more times. But his inning count is at 163 1/3, well above the 131 2/3 he pitched last year and closing in on the career-high 182 2/3 set in 2006 while in the New York Yankees' system. Studies have shown that pitchers should make only gradual increases to stay healthy.

"It's going to involve more than innings," Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said. "We'll look at how many pitches he throws and a lot of factors. We still think he's going to get his work in, and we'll see how it unfolds."

Ohlendorf's stance?

"They haven't told me anything yet for sure," he said. "I feel really good right now. But I know that the reason they would limit my innings would be for next year and subsequent years. And even if I feel good now, it doesn't mean that watching my innings won't help me stay healthy for the future."

Walker gets first hit

Neil Walker got his first start in his hometown and came through with his first major league hit, a line-drive single to right off St. Louis reliever Jason Motte in the eighth inning.

"It's fantastic, a dream come true to do it here. And I hope it's the first of many," Walker said. "I feel fortunate to be able to do it in front of so many family and friends."

He went 1 for 3 with a walk.

Bixler, Diaz returning

The Pirates' pending call-ups will be limited, Huntington said: Relievers Jeff Karstens and Donnie Veal will return tomorrow off disabled-list stints, and two other players -- almost surely shortstop Brian Bixler and catcher Robinzon Diaz -- will join them.

First baseman Jeff Clement had been expected, too, but a strained oblique has management leaning more toward sending him to the Florida Instructional League and, later, possibly, to winter ball.

Buried treasure

• Struggling starter Charlie Morton, originally scheduled to start tomorrow, instead will pitch Friday in Houston.

• Huntington, on Yankees utilityman Eric Hinske telling Canada's National Post that he "hated" being in Pittsburgh and had demanded to be traded: "I know he was very different with me, personally, and that's what I go off."

• St. Louis reliever Dennys Reyes, the only player on the opposite side who once played for the Pirates, on the 17th losing season: "Nobody wants to do that. But this is a rebuilding team. They have a really young club. In a couple years, they're going to have a good team. They'll forget about this, come back next year and try to do better."

Starling Marte, a top outfield prospect just promoted to Class A Lynchburg, sprained an ankle in his debut Friday but it is not thought serious.

Catch more on the Pirates at the PG's PBC Blog . Dejan Kovacevic can be reached at dkovacevic@post-gazette.com .


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