Pirates Notebook: Karstens to skip a start
HOUSTON -- Add Jeff Karstens to the list of Pirates starters who need a breather.
The Pirates will skip Karstens' next start after he complained of shoulder soreness after his outing Sunday in St. Louis.
"It's not painful," Karstens said. "It's sore. It's stiff. It's taken a little bit longer to feel fresh than normal."
Karstens, a 28-year-old right-handed pitcher, allowed 21 earned runs in four August starts -- twice leaving games before finishing the fourth inning.
The Pirates already have two starting pitchers -- Paul Maholm (shoulder) and Kevin Correia (oblique) -- on the disabled list.
"It's really just tough timing for the ballclub," Karstens said. "Paul's down, Correia's down. Those are two guys we really count on to eat up innings. I didn't want to fall into that category where we're all going down at the same time. But you control what you can control."
The Pirates can expand their major league roster to 40 players Thursday, meaning the club likely will not have to tinker too much with their roster to find a temporary starter.
Manager Clint Hurdle said the team reached the decision after consulting with pitching coach Ray Searage and athletic trainer Brad Henderson. He was not yet ready to announce who will start Friday in place of Karstens when the Pirates play the Chicago Cubs.
Hurdle said fatigue might be the biggest factor in Karstens' need for rest.
He has pitched 152 innings this season -- the most he has thrown in a single season since he pitched 1901/3 innings in 2006 between major and minor league appearances.
"That's a long time ago," Hurdle said.
Karstens has started 24 games for the Pirates this season, the most he has thrown in one season at the major league level.
Karstens did not throw Monday and said he might not throw today as he allows his arm to rest.
"Hopefully this skipped start helps me finish the season strong," he said.
Reliever Jason Grilli entered the series against the Houston Astros having gone scoreless over his past 91/3 innings.
And, yes, he's counting.
"As a bullpen guy, I try to break my outings into nine inning sessions like a starter because I was a starter a long time ago," he said.
Grilli, 34, was a first-round draft pick in 1997 and was originally tabbed as a starter.
Since joining the Pirates a little more than a month ago, Grilli has allowed earned runs in just three of his 16 appearances.
He threw 70 pitches last week, Hurdle said, and though others in the bullpen are struggling he will caution against overworking relievers.
"You've got to do it smart. ... I try and take ownership of their health," Hurdle said.
Derrek Lee (fractured left wrist) swung with a bat Monday for the first time since going on the disabled list Aug. 10. He took 20 swings in an indoor batting cage, hitting soft toss and off a tee.
"It's nice to finally get a bat in my hands," he said. "Hopefully it's not too much longer I'll be out there playing in real games."
He said if his wrist feels good today, he could increase his workload.
Evan Meek (shoulder tendinitis) was scheduled to make his second Class AAA rehab appearance Monday night with another scheduled for Wednesday. At that point, the Pirates will evaluate his progress.
Hurdle said he expects Meek to rejoin the Pirates before the end of the season.
First Published August 30, 2011 12:00 am