Pirates' Beimel sustains setback

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BRADENTON, Fla. -- The Pirates bullpen experienced a setback Tuesday, when left-handed reliever Joe Beimel felt discomfort in his left forearm as he attempted to go through his throwing program.

He was shut down from throwing and scheduled to have an MRI later Tuesday, the results of which should be released today.

"I probably threw like 10 throws and about on the 10th one, I felt it starting to come on a little bit," Beimel said. "I didn't want to backtrack and get to where it was a couple days ago, so I just shut it down. I'm just trying to go day by day and go from there."

Beimel, 33, was signed Jan. 28 as a minor league free agent, but is expected to be the Pirates' late-game, primary left-handed setup man this season.

The injury first surfaced Saturday when Beimel was throwing, and he missed his scheduled one-inning appearance Sunday against Tampa Bay.

General manager Neal Huntington was asked what would happen if the Beimel injury extends into the regular season.

"It is something we will address when, and if, that happens," Huntington said. "We are optimistic that it will be a short shutdown and, as a reliever, he can get back out there pretty quickly. He is in tremendous shape. It is not something really necessary to talk about right now."

While it might not be something Huntington wishes to talk about, one of the viable options, if Beimel can't go, would be left-hander Justin Thomas, who pitched in 12 games for the Pirates last season and 40 in Class AAA Indianapolis in a relief role.

"I am just kind of looking to break through and looking to make the team any way I can," Thomas said. "Whether it be a seventh-inning guy or a long-relief guy or a guy they need for a batter every day, it doesn't really matter to me. Any way that I can be on the team, I can be happy."

Olsen and the bullpen

Sunday, Huntington said that left-hander Scott Olsen, among the candidates fighting for the fifth spot in the starting rotation, could be sent to the bullpen if he doesn't earn the starting spot.

But Olsen said that doesn't necessarily fall in line with what he has been told in the past.

"He hasn't told me that, I don't know anything about the bullpen, I'm a starter," Olsen said.

Olsen is set to make a $450,000 base salary this season with a contract based heavily on incentives largely tied to the number of starts he makes.

Olsen injured his left hamstring the first week of spring training and is still on the mend. He is going through a prescribed throwing program but hasn't seen game action. He has thrown three bullpen sessions in the past six days.

As it stands, Olsen is battling Charlie Morton, Brad Lincoln, Brian Burres and Daniel McCutchen for the fifth starter's spot and, outside of Lincoln, Huntington said Sunday any of them could be sent to the bullpen.

"They didn't bring me in here to be a bullpen guy," Olsen said. "They want to do that, we are going to have to have a conversation about it, and we haven't had one about it."

Told Tuesday of Olsen's comments, Huntington said: "During our recruitment of Scott, it was our clear belief and his clear belief that he would be given every opportunity to compete for the fifth starter spot. We feel like, not just with him, but, for some other pitchers, if they don't win that spot, the next logical step could be a bullpen role."

Buried treasure

• In a game played by largely reserves on both sides, the Pirates defeated the New York Yankees, 2-0, Tuesday at McKechnie Field. Pedro Ciriaco and Josh Fields drove in runs. James McDonald, Aaron Thompson, Chris Resop, Daniel McCutchen, Ramon Aguero and Daniel Moskos combined to hold the Yankees to four hits. Catcher Chris Snyder collected two hits for the Pirates.

• The Pirates signed right-handed pitcher Cesar Lopez as a non-drafted free agent. Lopez, 20, was born Cuba and lives in Mexico.

• The Pirates and Central Blood Bank will have the first Pirates Blood Drive of 2011 from noon to 6 p.m. Monday at PNC Park. Call 412-209-7080 or visit www.centralbloodbank.org for information. Walk-ins are also welcome.

Colin Dunlap: cdunlap@post-gazette.com . First Published March 2, 2011 5:00 AM


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