Karstens' issues keep Lincoln in rotation mix

Karstens' issues keep Lincoln in rotation mix

PITTSBURGH -- Jeff Karstens' setback sets up Brad Lincoln to remain in the Bucs' rotation for at least two more spins.

Karstens was on target to be activated to lead off the Pirates' Interleague series on Tuesday in Baltimore, until tweaking his right groin muscle at the end of his Thursday rehab outing with Indianapolis.

An MRI taken Friday traced Karstens' discomfort to the hip flexor, viewed as a better-case diagnosis. Still, Karstens will be limited to some flat-ground tossing for about a week before "getting him back on the mound when he's comfortable with the leg," manager Clint Hurdle said.

Lincoln will take the hill in Camden Yards on Tuesday night, looking to improve on his last start, in which the Reds tagged him for five runs in four innings.

If the Pirates need a replacement starter beyond that, they might look at alternatives. Lincoln has been too valuable in his usual long-relief role (0.45 ERA in 13 games), and some worthy candidates are available at the Triple-A level.