Pirates Notebook: Jones' esophagus clogged

Food dislodged while first baseman hospitalized for six hours

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LOS ANGELES -- Garrett Jones, the Pirates' first baseman, was hospitalized for six hours Saturday because food became lodged in his esophagus, but he was released by nightfall.

Jones made it to Dodger Stadium shortly before game time, but he left before it finished to return to the team hotel. His status for today, manager John Russell said, will be based upon how he feels.

Jones ate the food in question late Friday night, woke up not feeling well Saturday morning, then checked into the White Memorial Medical Center at about 1 p.m. local time. Doctors performed tests and administered medication to try to ease swelling in the esophagus and, eventually, the food became dislodged.

"It wasn't severe," Russell said. "It was just that he swallowed something, and it wouldn't go down. You know how when there's swelling in that area and you can't get something down and need a drink? He just couldn't get it down. ... He should be OK."

Karstens for MVP?

If the Pirates are able to overcome their massive starting pitching problems for most of April, they might well consider naming Jeff Karstens their MVP for the calming effect his season debut Tuesday in Milwaukee had ... not just on the staff but the spirits of the whole team.

It has been an amazing contrast.

"Isn't it?" Russell said with a smile. "A little while back, we were wondering how we were going to make it to the next game. Now, it's just a lot more calm. Your hitters can relax. You have better use of your bullpen."

Russell is far from the only one who has glowed about Karstens' start, modest as it was with two runs over 6 2/3 innings in a 7-3 victory against the Brewers. Many of his teammates did likewise, and even team president Frank Coonelly publicly credited Karstens with stopping the bleeding.

Karstens will make his second start today, apparently with far less pressure.

"Oh, I don't see it like that at all," he said. "It's a big game for our team, the last one of the road trip, and I want to do everything I can to get us another win."

And of getting the opportunity after being removed from the 40-man roster in the offseason, then relegated to middle relief in the minors?

"It means a lot. That's all you can ask, something to run with," Karstens said.

Buried treasure

• Russell said the Pirates, still carrying 13 pitchers, expect to recall a position player early in the coming homestand. Most likely candidates are Steve Pearce and Neil Walker, each scorching the ball with Class AAA Indianapolis.

• Most likely pitcher to be returned is sparingly used reliever Brian Bass.

• The Pirates will not face Tom Gorzelanny, traded last summer to Chicago, in the coming series at PNC Park. The Cubs will throw, in order, Ryan Dempster, Ted Lilly and Randy Wells.

• According to Baseball Prospectus, the 150 runs the Pirates allowed in their first 20 games were the eighth-highest total for any team since 1901, third-highest since 1955.

• Indianapolis sent reliever Michael Dubee back to Class AA Altoona after a three-day promotion.


Dejan Kovacevic: dkovacevic@post-gazette.com . Find more at PBC Blog .


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