CINCINNATI -- When Jeff Karstens said he was "pain-free" during a 60-pitch drill Tuesday afternoon, he meant it. Not that there was any reason to doubt the assurance of the right-hander, but he acknowledged having learned his lesson when he tried to push his way through the early signs of a hip strain on Aug. 31 in Milwaukee. By continuing to pitch at less than full strength, he aggravated the situation, both to himself and on the scoreboard -- the Brewers scored four runs off him in the first one-third inning of an eventual 9-3 win. "I definitely have to say something if I don't feel right. These are very important games for us," Karstens said following his 30-pitch simulated game, which followed 30 warmup pitches.
"And [I] did some running. So far, so good. No side effects." But one surprise: When Neil Walker, one of the batters facing Karstens in the sim game, stood in on his more-sensitive left side, he did more than watch the pitches. "He took some swings left-handed. I thought he'd just be taking," Karstens said. "He looked good." Walker, recovering from lower back tightness, said he felt good, too. In fact, manager Clint Hurdle left open the possibility of Walker being used off the bench in Tuesday's game. That would also appear to be the second baseman's limit Wednesday, too. The club wants him to continue with his accelerating workouts and, following Thursday's off-day, return to the lineup Friday in the opener of a four-game series in Chicago.