CINCINNATI -- The Pirates still have just one left-hander in the bullpen. Only now, that option is Joe Beimel, who finished up his short Minor League stint and joined the club in Cincinnati on Friday. Left-hander Garrett Olson was designated for assignment in order to make space for Beimel to be added to the 40-man roster.
Beimel, who dealt with arm soreness in Spring Training, gives Hurdle a veteran, late-inning option to turn to. He won't be used solely as a situational lefty, though the Pirates are going to be cautious of Beimel's workload early given his limited time on the mound this spring.
Beimel most recently made three scoreless appearances -- one with Class A Advanced Bradenton and the others in Triple-A -- in order to make up for the time he lost in March. His last two outings came on consecutive days.
"I got all my pitches working," said Beimel, who has made at least 71 appearances each of the past four seasons. "I think that was the big thing. I got the back-to-back games in there to show them I'm ready to go and show myself I'm ready to go. That's why I'm here."
The Pirates have 10 days to trade, release or outright Olson to the Minors if he clears waivers. The latter is the club's preference.
"He was working with us on something to give him more angle from the left side, which I think will really help him left on left," Hurdle said. "I'd prefer to have two [lefties], if they can be efficient. I think Garrett, with the proper work, can get to that point."
By parting ways with Olson, Pittsburgh was able to keep both Daniel McCutchen and Mike Crotta in the bullpen. With Jeff Karstens temporarily stepping into the rotation, McCutchen is needed as a long-relief option. Crotta, Hurdle said, earned the chance to prove himself at this level.
"In certain cases, you look big picture," Hurdle said. "Some guys, you're looking to develop now. Mike Crotta's got a chance of putting a foot down in our bullpen. We've given him some tough assignments and he's handled all but one."
McCutchen, Pirates pay tribute to Jackie
CINCINNATI -- Major League Baseball celebrated Jackie Robinson Day on Friday on the 64th anniversary of Robinson's debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
As has been a tradition for a few years now, every Pirates player and uniformed staff member donned a jersey with No. 42 on the back. Before Pittsburgh's game against the Reds at Great American Ball Park, a video tribute to Robinson was played on the stadium's Jumbotron.
"It means a whole lot because he was a stepping stone for African Americans, pretty much for any race in the game," Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen said of Robinson's legacy. "He started things off for us. If it wasn't for him, who knows where we would be? It's good that he was able just to step out and be himself and break the color barrier. It's a privilege just to be a part of this game and know that he started this."
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This marked MLB's eighth annual Jackie Robinson Day. The number 42 has been retired across baseball since 1997.
"As an African American player, I wouldn't have the chance I have today if it wasn't for the sacrifices he made back when he played," pitcher James McDonald said. "Coming from the Dodgers' organization, they talk about Jackie all the time. I talked with some of the players that played with him, and they talked about how much of a leader he was and how much he loved the game and had passion for the game. I give everything to him."
Hurdle decides to realign Pirates' lineup
CINCINNATI -- The Pirates featured a new-look lineup on Friday, highlighted by Andrew McCutchen's return to the leadoff spot and Neil Walker's placement in the cleanup spot. It's all a part of manager Clint Hurdle's effort to pull his offense out of its recent funk.
"It's not about being right," said Hurdle, who came into the year believing McCutchen was the right guy to bat third. "It's about getting it right. It's about me getting it right for the club."
Jose Tabata followed McCutchen, with Lyle Overbay assuming the No. 3 hole. Those top four hitters combined to hit .169 during the Pirates' recent 1-5 homestand.
Walker may be new to hitting fourth, but the sight of McCutchen and Tabata atop the batting order is hardly an original idea. The pair thrived hitting from those spots in the second half of the 2010 season.
The hope is that McCutchen, who was mired in a 2-for-23 skid entering Friday, can make his speed play more from the top spot. He came into Friday's game without a stolen base this year. Hurdle said he also believes getting McCutchen back in a spot where he's more comfortable could help the center fielder eliminate some early season bad habits.
"He [has] had a big swing lately," Hurdle said. "I don't think it came out of hitting third. In Spring Training, he did it. It is what it is -- put him back to where it's all focused on him getting on [base]."
Pushing Walker into the No. 4 spot is designed to capitalize on the second baseman's ability to drive in runs. It is new territory, however, as Walker had never before found his name penciled into the cleanup spot in a Major League starting lineup.
"It doesn't change my approach, and I don't think it's going to change anybody else's approach," Walker said. "Tabby and Cutch are always on base, so this will give us a chance to do some damage 3-4-5. I feel like a lot of times I'm putting the ball in play, and when you're doing those things, you're going to find real estate more times than not."
Hurdle has employed eight different lineups in 13 games. This latest one, he said, is not a one-game experiment, so expect it to stick for a while.
Pirates name Karstens starter for Sunday
CINCINNATI -- Jeff Karstens will start Pittsburgh's game against the Reds on Sunday as expected.
Manager Clint Hurdle made that assignment official on Friday, though the expectation all along had been that Karstens would take Ross Ohlendorf's place in the rotation. The only way that would have changed would have been if Karstens had been needed in relief earlier this week.
With Ohlendorf unable to come off the disabled list until April 24, Karstens should be in line to make at least two starts. He began the year in the bullpen, where he served as the team's primary long reliever. Karstens has appeared in just three games so far, but he threw enough pitches (67) in his most recent outing to get himself stretched out to start.
Outfielder Jose Tabata moved into second place in the National League with a first-inning stolen base on Friday. Tabata has stolen seven bases and only been caught once this season.
Entering Friday's games, the Pirates' bullpen remained just one of two in the Majors not to have given up a home run this year.
Jose Ascanio made his second rehab appearance with Class A Advanced Bradenton (Fla.) on Thursday. He allowed one hit and struck out one in a scoreless inning.
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.