Martin, Karstens near returns for Bucs

A pair of sidelined Pirates are considerably closer to getting out of sick bay after encouraging workouts the past couple of days.

Catcher Russell Martin, shelved by "upper-body soreness" since Tuesday, could rejoin the lineup at least in a DH capacity on Saturday. And right-hander Jeff Karstens' throwing program on the way back from biceps tendinitis will be stepped up following Wednesday's encouraging side session.

Martin had what manager Clint Hurdle called "a very good day" on Thursday, and will pick up a bat again on Friday.

"We'll get him swinging the bat and, if all goes well, probably get him a DH opportunity Saturday in Lakeland [where the Pirates will play the Tigers]," Hurdle said.

Karstens responded well to a 26-pitch session on Wednesday in which he was limited to throwing fastballs and changeups.

"That went very well," Hurdle reported. "Friday he will throw a more complete bullpen, mix in his breaking ball, then we'll re-evaluate him from there."

However that session grades out, Karstens is anticipated to needing to throw live batting practice at least twice before consideration is given to having him pitch in a game.