Pirates return from a day off


FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Pirates are back at it after having the day off Thursday. It was just their second off-day of the spring and they’ll get one more on March 26.

The Pirates are at City of Palms Park in Fort Myers ready to take on the Boston Red Sox at 1:05 p.m.

Pirates pitcher Jeff Karstens will get his first start of the spring. Tom Gorzelanny was scheduled to start today, but those plans changed when he was unexpectedly sent to the minors Wednesday.

Now the staff can take a better look at Karstens.

He’ll face tougher hitters than in previous outings when he was pitching the middle innings. Now he’ll face the opponent’s starting players.

Karstens and Virgil Vasquez are competing for the fifth rotation spot although the Pirates continue to explore other options — possibly a trade or picking up a free agent.

• The Pirates starting lineup for today:

1. Nyjer Morgan cf, 2. Brian Bixler 2b, 3. Eric Hinske rf, 4. Craig Monroe lf, 5. Brandon Moss, dh, 6. Andy Laroche 3b, 7. Garrett Jones 1b, 8. Robinson Diaz c, 9. Luis Cruz ss.

• Moss returns to the Pirates lineup for the first time since bruising his thumb on March 7. He played in a minor league game Thursday and went 4-for-5 with a double and a walk.

• Vince Lascheid — the longtime organist for the Pirates and Penguins — died overnight. He was 85. Lascheid was known for playing different songs as Pirates and opposing players made their way to the batter’s box.