ST. LOUIS -- After taking time to single out a lack of patience in one key at-bat after Friday's loss, manager Clint Hurdle spoke again on Saturday about his periods of frustration with the club's offensive approach.
It has not all been bad, as the Pirates have drawn eight walks off St. Louis' starting pitchers this series entering Saturday. But in a handful of key at-bats during the first two games -- both of which the Pirates lost -- there was a glaring absence of patience that the situation called for.
"At times, we're doing all the right things to get ourselves in position to score, and then it's almost like we forgot that process of how we got there," Hurdle said. "I'm encouraged by the way we're getting on base, but it's discouraging when we fire quickly in those situations and make outs on soft pitches on the first pitch. That has been something that has been in our way throughout the season."
Hurdle added that shortstop Ronny Cedeno is not the poster boy for the lack of plate discipline, but Cedeno's fifth-inning at-bat on Friday was the most maddening of the 5-4 loss. With the bases loaded and against a pitcher that had just walked Josh Harrison on four straight pitches, Cedeno offered at Jake Westbrook's first pitch.
If Cedeno was anticipating a fastball, he guessed wrong. Westbrook threw a slider that Cedeno popped up for an easy third out. Cedeno was not in the lineup on Saturday, though Hurdle said that had more to do with the fact that he had started each of the team's last 17 games. He was, though, specifically benched twice earlier this season because of focus issues.
For Cedeno, these last five weeks will be critical. The Pirates still must decide whether to pick up his $3 million option for 2012. Cedeno has had stellar stretches on defense this year, but there have been frustrating lapses of focus on both the defensive and offensive ends from time to time.
"We've got to figure out if he's the guy for the future or if we need to go find better," Hurdle said. "That is still the question. We've worked very hard with Ronny, and he has been receptive to the challenges. How much longer are you going to ask, 'Is there more there or is this what you get?' And if this is what you get, is that enough?"
Snyder trying to work his way back this season
ST. LOUIS -- Catcher Chris Snyder, along with most of the Pirates' injured players, remained in Pittsburgh when the club took off to begin this stretch of 11 games in four cities. Snyder had anticipated resuming some swinging by this weekend, though that might still be a few days away.
Manager Clint Hurdle said that Snyder hopes to resume some light baseball activities soon and that there is an outside chance that Snyder plays before the end of the season.
"I think the young man wants to get back to show the industry that he's fit for duty," Hurdle said. "I think they're all of the mindset to try and find a way to get back. There is time in front of them to continue and work and be optimistic."
Showing that he's fully recovered would have a positive impact on Snyder's value heading into the offseason. If the Pirates do not exercise Snyder's $6.75 million option for 2012, the catcher will become a free agent.
While the Pirates might not be willing to pay the price of the option, it could make sense for the club to approach Snyder about signing for a lesser amount. Without an obvious starting-catcher option for next season, the Pirates could benefit from a veteran presence.
Since injuring his back in early June, Snyder has accompanied the team on a number of road trips to stay involved in scouting meetings and work with rookie catchers who have filled in during his absence.
"He's just been a really good fit for our team from Spring Training until now," Hurdle said. "He's been very valuable, and I think there is a lot of good baseball still in front of him if he can pull through this setback with his back."
Karstens good to go for Sunday start
ST. LOUIS -- Jeff Karstens will take the mound for the Pirates on Sunday without any concern about the strength of his right shoulder.
Karstens felt a cramp in that shoulder on Monday when he threw the 103rd and final pitch of his seven-inning start against the Brewers. He underwent a variety of tests as a precautionary measure afterward. All came back negative.
That cleared Karstens to resume his normal workout routine immediately, and he went through it without restriction this week. He also felt no discomfort during his long-toss or bullpen sessions.
This all comes as a relief to the Pirates, who have already lost two members of their starting rotation in the past nine days.
Sunday will be Karstens' second start of the year against the Cardinals. He received a no-decision back on Aug. 16, when Karstens allowed three earned runs in 5 1/3 innings. The right-hander has a 1.50 ERA in his last six starts against teams from the National League Central.
Evan Meek will continue his rehab work with Triple-A Indianapolis after making two appearances with Class A Advanced Bradenton. Meek will be available to pitch out of Indianapolis' bullpen as early as Saturday. He'll begin pitching later in games and work his way toward being ready to pitch on back-to-back days. The Pirates anticipate Meek returning in September.
Friday's game was the 16th the Pirates have lost in the final at-bat. That matches their total from 2010. Pittsburgh entered Saturday's game on a five-game road losing streak. Three of those five losses have come by one run.
After blowing a save on Friday, Jose Veras now has a 4.35 ERA since the All-Star break. Still, he has been scored upon just twice in 14 August appearances. His six blown saves are tops on the club.
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.