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• Starter James McDonald fired four innings of one-hit ball in Thursday's 4-2 loss to the Rays, but his best moment may have been joining the Pickoff Brigade with his first-inning pickoff at first of Tampa Bay speedster Desmond Jennings. A.J. Burnett and Gerrit Cole both picked off runners in previous contests, which reflects the Pirates' new emphasis on controlling the running game.

• Russell Martin, likely to make his first appearance behind the plate in 13 days in Saturday's game against the Twins, may not be the only Pirates player to surface on the field this weekend.

Brandon Inge (shoulder surgery in September) credits "a very good throwing program they've had me on" for being ready to see some action at third base. Inge has DH'd five times and is 3-for-12 with a walk in spring.

• Charlie Morton is scheduled to pitch live batting practice on Sunday, his first time throwing to batters on the road back from Tommy John surgery in June.

"I'm looking forward to getting [the batters'] feedback. Otherwise, I plan to just throw nice and easy, continue what I've been doing in bullpens," Morton said. "I won't be out there trying to impress anybody."

• Jeff Karstens (biceps tendinitis) will move one step closer to game action when he pitches two more simulated innings on Friday in Pirate City.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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