PITTSBURGH -- Already having taken advantage of a scheduled off-day on Monday, Pittsburgh's wearied relievers got one more respite with Tuesday's game against the Brewers being postponed because of rain.
The timely pair of days off should have the Pirates' bullpen back at full strength by Wednesday. The group had been recovering since Friday, when six relievers were called on to cover 11 1/3 innings in a 14-inning win over Colorado. Limiting manager Clint Hurdle's options even further was the fact that Evan Meek was out all weekend with shoulder tightness.
Meek threw on the side on Monday and said he expects to be available again beginning on Wednesday. The only thing that could hold him back now is an illness he is fighting.
Hurdle said he doesn't expect any of his other six relievers to be sidelined further.
Karstens to step into starting rotation
PITTSBURGH -- Manager Clint Hurdle announced on Tuesday that right-hander Jeff Karstens will step into the rotation for Ross Ohlendorf, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list Saturday because of a posterior strain in his right shoulder.
The initial plan was to have Karstens pitch on Thursday against the Brewers. Tuesday's rainout, however, has scrambled the Pirates' pitching plans. Karstens will pitch one of the first three games in the upcoming series in Cincinnati (April 15-18), but the club has not yet determined which game.
With Ohlendorf not eligible to come off the DL until after April 23, Karstens will be needed to take Ohlendorf's spot at least two times through the rotation.
"Hopefully Dorf will get back soon," Karstens said. "But until then, I'll try to do his job."
The jump from reliever to starter is nothing new for Karstens, who genuinely does not mind his fluid role. As Hurdle noted on Tuesday, "He doesn't have an agenda."
Karstens is stretched out to start after throwing 67 pitches in relief on Friday. He pitched 3 1/3 innings in that game, entering cold in the third after Ohlendorf exited with the shoulder injury.
"I'm just used to the role," Karstens said. "I roll out of bed with a smile on my face. I get to put the big league uniform on every day and I'm proud of that."
With Karstens temporarily leaving the bullpen, Daniel McCutchen will serve as the club's primary long reliever.
Beimel, Snyder close to returning
PITTSBURGH -- Joe Beimel and Chris Snyder, both of whom are working their way back from spring injuries, appear to be just days away from joining the big league club.
After a brief stint with Class A Advanced Bradenton (Fla.) last week, Beimel pitched in Triple-A games on Monday and Tuesday. It marked the first time Beimel has pitched in back-to-back games all year, as he was never healthy enough to do so during Spring Training.
Manager Clint Hurdle said the Pirates want to see how Beimel feels on Wednesday before determining his next step. If he does not report any issues with his arm, Beimel could be joining the Major League club within days. Not only would the Pirates have to clear a spot in the bullpen for the lefty, but they would also have to put him on the 40-man roster.
As for Snyder, he will get the option of whether or not he wants to head to Indianapolis to get some at-bats in Triple-A games before being reinstated off the disabled list. He has played in five straight games with Bradenton and has been behind the plate in four of them. Snyder has not felt any of the back soreness that plagued him this spring.
Jose Ascanio just began his rehab assignment with Class A Bradenton on Monday. He pitched 1 2/3 innings, allowed three earned runs and struck out five.
Starter Brad Lincoln has been reinstated from the disabled list and was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis, where he will pitch in the rotation.
Lefty Rudy Owens pitched seven strong innings in his Triple-A debut on Monday. Owens allowed one run, seven hits and struck out five in the outing. He threw 58 of his 83 pitches for strikes.
Outfielder Jose Tabata will enter Wednesday's game riding a 10-game hitting streak. As of Tuesday, Tabata's streak tied that of White Sox first baseman Paul Korneko's as the longest current one in the Majors.
The Pirates would prefer not to stir up memories of the last time the Brewers came to PNC Park in April. During this month last year, Milwaukee outscored the Pirates, 36-1, in a three-game series in Pittsburgh. Included in there was a 20-0 loss.
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.