Pirates’ Karstens has arm trouble

BRADENTON, Fla. – Pirates pitcher Jeff Karstens did not make his scheduled start Sunday against the Baltimore Orioles due to “continuing shoulder discomfort,” the team announced Sunday.

Chris Leroux started in his place was rocked early in the Pirates’ 12-10 loss.

Karstens first experienced what he described as soreness in his right shoulder Feb. 19, a little more than one week after pitchers and catchers first reported for spring training. The team later described the injury as right biceps tendinitis.

He started throwing batting practice earlier this month and made two starts in minor league games at Pirate City, most recently throwing 50 pitches Monday.

General manager Neal Huntington said earlier this spring that Karstens would be able to join the Pirates’ rotation by April 7 – the first day the team would need a fifth starter – if he didn’t have any issues the rest of the spring.

The Pirates still have four candidates for the rotation they are considering: left-handed pitchers Jeff Locke and Jonathan Sanchez and right-handed pitchers Kyle McPherson and Jeanmar Gomez.

It is now likely two pitchers from that group will make the team’s opening day roster.

In Sunday’s loss, Chris Dickerson hit a grand slam that gave the Orioles an eight-run lead in the first inning, but it took Steve Pearce’s solo shot in the seventh to secure a win.

Andrew McCutchen hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the first off Orioles starter Brian Matusz. Gaby Sanchez had three hits and three RBIs for Pittsburgh.

Matusz worked four innings, giving up five runs and nine hits. He walked one and struck out two.

Pearce, a former minor league player of the year in the Pirates’ farm system, snapped a 10-all tie with a drive to left field off Mike Zagurski.

Dickerson’s slam and Wilson Betemit’s two-run double were among five hits in the first off Leroux.

The Pirates will play at Tampa Bay this evening. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m.