Pirates Notebook: Karstens Moving in the Right Direction

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Right-hander Jeff Karstens is continuing to progress back from right shoulder inflammation that caused him to exit his third start of the season on April 17 early, and be placed on the 15-day disabled list the following day.

After resting his arm for 10 days, Karstens has started throwing on flat ground. Yesterday, the right-hander was throwing from 60 feet at PNC Park.

“The program is going good,” Karstens said. “The rehab is slow, but surely moving in the right direction. It’s one of those things where I want to hurry up and get back as quick as I can, but I’ve got to be smart about it too. I don’t want to have it pop up again and be out. We’re trying to take the route that’s the quickest and safest all in the same thing. It’s just one of those things where you’ve got to be careful.”

Karstens threw for the fourth day and said after a cranky day one, his arm is feeling a lot better.

“Day one sucked. Day two felt better. Day three felt a lot better. Day four has been by far the best,” Karstens said. “It just goes with not throwing for 10 days. During the season I take a day off, and the next day is always a little cranky. Imagine 10 of those days. It’s just kind of one of those things where you got to get back into it. As far as what I was feeling before, as opposed to now when I first start to throw it feels a lot better. Before it was a little cranky to get it going. I feel like I’m moving in the right direction. I’ll build up the endurance and the strength and see where we go from there.”

Right-hander Chris Leroux is also working through a program for his right pectoral muscle injury that forced him onto the 60-day disabled list. After throwing in Bradenton, Fla., Leroux has returned to Pittsburgh to continue his program.

“They both are going through their flat throwing programs,” Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle said. ” They’re throwing a volume of pitches at 60 feet. We anticipate moving them back to 90. They both feel fine. They feel like they’re making advancement.”

 

Tabata Finding More Success at the Plate

Outfielder Jose Tabata’s hard work looking at tapes of his swing from last season and extra work in the cages seems to be paying off. Over his last 12 games, Tabata is hitting for a .320 average after hitting just .111 over his first 10 games of the 2012 season.

Manager Clint Hurdle pushed Tabata to leadoff in the club’s 6-3 win on Thursday, where he went 3-for-5 with two runs and a stolen base.

“He’s finishing the swings off better,” Hurdle said. “There’s more power in the swing. He’s gapped some balls. He’s got a few extra base hits. He’s hit with more confidence in himself. Just the aggressive swing is back in play. He’s had a good week. I moved him back to the top of the lineup yesterday. He sparked us very well. We’re going to keep him up there, let him run that out, see how that will play out.”

“When he gets on base, he wants to move. He’s not always stealing, but he’s looking to move. He’s got a lot of confidence on the bases. You ‘ve seen it play out in the past where he’s definitely relished the number one spot. But you need to be at a point where you’re getting on base. That’s something he’s done much better over the last week.”

While Tabata has seen success, Alex Presley’s spark at the top has fizzled. In Thursday’s game, Presley snapped an 0-for-17 skid while going 1-for-5 with an RBI on the day. His average has dipped down to .233 on the season.

“He needs to trust his swing,” Hurdle said. “He’s getting balls to hit. He hasn’t been squaring them up. He’s been topping them, just missing them. Sometimes there’s air, sometimes it’s on the ground. He knows where he needs to be. We’ve worked extremely hard. Now it’s a transformation of taking all that early work, that inside work, that BP work into the game and trust it. Just trust what you see, and trust your swing. We’re just trying to get him back to a more natural state, more confident state and a more reactive state at the plate.”

 

McCutchen Out of the Lineup

All-Star center fielder Andrew McCutchen was not in the lineup last night against the Cincinnati Reds due to flu-like symptoms. He was removed from the game in the fourth inning Thursday after going 0-for-2 at the plate. McCutchen also sat out on Wednesday.

“He left yesterday and he had spent some time today at the doctors again,” Hurdle said on Friday. “We’re not going to start him. He hopefully should be available once the game starts. We’re going to give him some more time.”
McCutchen has hit safely in seven of his last nine games and 13 of his last 17. His 27 hits this season ranks third among National League center fielders behind Matt Kemp (37) and Michael Bourn (35).
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