Published November 20, 2014
Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander Jeff Karstens says that this spring he's got the mindset of a starting pitcher.
"It's my first year I've really trained to be a starter," he said Sunday after allowing four hits in four innings of the Pirates' 3-1 win over Toronto.
"I don't think I trained with the mentality I have now. I think it's a little different this year, knowing the expectations. ... I want more of that and I want the other guys to see more of that."
He was a spot starter out of the bullpen in 2010 and began last season the same way until Ross Ohlendorf's shoulder problems gave Karstens the chance to start on a regular basis.
Ohlendorf was released in December — he's now with the Red Sox — and Karstens has been given his spot in Pittsburgh's starting rotation this year.
Karstens is not allowing himself to feel, as he put it, "comfortable" with his situation "because I don't want to feel a sense of entitlement. I would say I've felt more at ease because I feel like, 'OK, I can start; I can relieve. I'm in a good place with this team."
The Blue Jays' run came in the fourth inning when Kelly Johnson doubled and Edwin Encarnacion singled.
"I think he's evolving," manager Clint Hurdle said of Karstens. "I think his mentality, his ability and awareness on the field is as good as his skill set — great ability to read swings, a real good touch and feel for all his pitches, able to throw secondary pitches behind in counts — and the command of his fastball is very, very good."
Brandon Morrow held Pittsburgh to two hits in four innings with four strikeouts.
"I think I accomplished what I set out to do, polish up and gain a lot more confidence with those third and fourth pitches," Morrow said. "I threw a lot off changeups, a lot of curveballs and really kept guys off balance all spring."
The Pirates took the lead against Drew Carpenter in the eighth inning when Michael McKenry singled and Nate McLouth homered. In the ninth, pinch-hitter Matt Hague hit Jim Hoey's first pitch for his seventh spring home run.
NOTES: Pirates RHP A.J. Burnett, who bunted a ball into his right eye socket Feb. 29, pitched three innings Sunday in a minor league game. He is scheduled to pitch Friday for Class A Bradenton. ... Pittsburgh optioned RHPs Daniel McCutcheon and Brad Lincoln to Triple-A Indianapolis, leaving RHPs Chris Leroux and Jared Hughes and LHP Daniel Moskos to compete for the remaining bullpens spots. ... Pittsburgh C Rod Barajas was held out of Sunday's game after playing three of the past four. ... Blue Jays 1B Adam Lind (lower back tightness) returned to the lineup after missing five games, and Toronto OF Ben Francisco, (strained left hamstring) played in a minor league game, his first game since March 23. ... RHP Dustin McGowan (right foot plantar fasciitis) won't throw a ball for another 5-7 days and is not expected to pitch in a Blue Jays game until the end of April at the earliest, manager John Farrell said. ... The Pirates will start a bullpen pitcher, not yet determined, Monday night, in the first of their final two exhibition games against the host Phillies. ... LHP Brett Cecil (3-0, 3.55 ERA) will start for the Blue Jays against LHP Drew Smyly (0-0, 2.84) the Tigers at Lakeland.