PITTSBURGH -- Pirates right-hander Jeff Karstens limped to the finish in 2010, seemingly reinforcing management's belief that his arm wasn't durable enough to handle starting duties for a full six months. It was a label that Karstens took exception to and one that he is intent on further discarding this month.
Karstens returned to the mound on Tuesday after skipping two starts due to shoulder soreness and fatigue. A similar arm issue surfaced at the end of August last year, and it limited Karstens to just one inning during the season's last five weeks.
"Last year, when I broke down, I wasn't able to pitch again until the [last] series," Karstens said. "For me to come back out and feel good ... I'll go from there."
Karstens is scheduled to make another start Monday, though the Pirates haven't assured him of one more after that. The fact that Karstens said he felt pain free and strong in Tuesday's outing -- despite some obvious command issues -- could help his argument to remain in the rotation through season's end.
He has already logged a career-high 156 1/3 innings, which is 33 2/3 more than he pitched in Pittsburgh last season. If Karstens is unplugged from the rotation after his next start, the Pirates would likely fill the opening with either Aaron Thompson or Brian Burres.
Regardless of how his season ends, Karstens will remain one of the brightest stories from 2011. His ability to slide into the rotation in early April and fortify it played a large role in the team's early-season success. It also likely assured Karstens of being tendered a contract by the Pirates this offseason.
Bucs claim catcher Pagnozzi off waivers
PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates will be joined in Los Angeles by catcher Matt Pagnozzi, who Pittsburgh claimed off waivers on Wednesday. Pagnozzi had been designated for assignment by the Rockies on Sunday.
While the Pirates don't necessarily need Pagnozzi for the final 13 games of this season, the club made this move while looking ahead to 2012. The Pirates hold club options on Chris Snyder and Ryan Doumit, and it seems unlikely that either of those options will be exercised. The club could re-sign either at a lower cost, but that's not a guarantee either.
If neither returns, the Pirates now have Pagnozzi, Michael McKenry and Jason Jaramillo as options to fill the catching void.
A product of the Cardinals' farm system, Pagnozzi left St. Louis and signed with the Rockies last November. He appeared in just seven games with Colorado in 2011 and had six hits in 21 at-bats.
Pagnozzi played in another 54 games at the Triple-A level this season, where he hit .275 with a .337 on-base percentage, 13 doubles, three homers and 29 RBIs. Pagnozzi, 28, threw out 29 percent of the runners trying to steal off him.
Since 2009, Pagnozzi has appeared in 28 Major League games.
The Pirates made room for Pagnozzi on the 40-man roster by transferring Steve Pearce to the 60-day disabled list. Pearce is out for the rest of the season with a right index finger fracture.
The Pirates celebrated Roberto Clemente by recognizing Jeff Karstens as their nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award prior to Wednesday's game. The Pirates also honored members of the 1971 Pirates team, who were part of the first all-minority lineup in Major League Baseball history. That lineup included Clemente.
Pirates players donned caps that resembled those worn by the '71 Pirates for Wednesday's game against the Cardinals. Those caps will be auctioned on pirates.com to raise money for Clemente Day initiatives.
The Pirates anticipate about 80-85 players participating in this year's instructional league. Those workouts will begin on Sept. 19 in Bradenton, Fla.
There is still a chance that the Pirates could finish the season with four 10-game winners, though only Kevin Correia (12-11) has reached that mark already. James McDonald, Charlie Morton and Karstens all sit at nine wins. Both Morton and Karstens have been stuck at nine for over a month.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.