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Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: Harrison’s lament

Some sporting thoughts before sunrise …

>> No injury to an athlete strikes a chord with me like one involving the lower back, as I had issues with that a couple years ago. It’s debilitating, demoralizing, and it takes a lot to get back to 100 percent.

Watching James Harrison struggle against the Falcons the other night was one thing. Watching him sit quietly at his stall afterward was another. But seeing his Tweet the next day was what really caught my eye: “I’m feeling it this morning. Guess it’s going to take a little longer to get back to normal than I thought!”

I could bore all of you to tears with medical stuff about the lower back, but here’s the short version: When a disk slips out of its casing, even once it’s back where it belongs, it takes several months for that casing to fully close back up. And that’s assuming it does.

Harrison’s two surgeries were in March, and he’s back on a football field trying to destroy grown men.

Start worrying.

>> Here’s something confusing: Charlie Batch rips the NFL for the Terrelle Pryor suspension, as our Mark Kaboly reports today. But it’s also commonly known — and repeated in this article — that the league and the union agreed on all this, so that Pryor wouldn’t be kept out of the supplemental draft and miss a full year, as opposed to just five games.

Batch, if you recall, was part of the union’s negotiating team on the labor pact, so he’s closer to DeMaurice Smith than most. But he chooses only to criticize Roger Goodell rather than Smith or, for that matter, Pryor and his lawyer for happily accepting the deal.

That falls on at least two deaf ears.

>> It’s about time the Pirates took action with Jeff Karstens. Anyone could see he was struggling to find his stuff the past two starts and, even if they didn’t see it, Karstens was letting everyone know his shoulder hurt last week after facing Milwaukee.

Karstens is one of those guys who feels like he has to prove things to people. He doesn’t anymore. He had a terrific 2011 season that answered every doubt about him, including endurance. He’s at his highest inning count in five years.

Might be time for the team to shut him down.

>> Ross Ohlendorf nearly matched his 2010 win total  — one — before the middle relief crumbled yet again. That will not help in arbitration.

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