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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.


  1. Bill says:

    Karstens threw more innings in 2006 than he did in 2005. 190.1 to be exact.

    DK: Fixed. And thanks, Bill.

  2. Bob says:

    Why doesn’t Charlie rip himself since he was some sort of ‘mentor’ to Pryor. Nice job Charlie!

  3. Radio wave says:

    Pirates #1 off season priority should be middle relief.

  4. hooco01 says:

    Thank God football season is here. 10 games under .500? I guess all the talk about breaking the streak is officially done. Which starting pitcher is going to whine next about their arm being sore? Do these players do any conditioning in the off season? The Pirates are a complete joke. That first place run to July 20th was a fluke. There is no doubt about it.

  5. JAL says:

    JAL’s Over, Under, Sideways, Down Morning Links

    Steelers Blogs

    1-Behind the Steel Curtain

    Ben Roethlisberger vs. the Field: How Big Ben’s First Seven NFL Seaons Stack Up Against Other Great NFL Quarterbacks

    Pittsburgh Steeler Roster Cuts — Six More to be Released Tuesday by 4 p.m.

    2-Steeler Depot

    Another Changing of the Guard

    3-Steelers Gab

    Steelers Quietly Promote Colbert to GM Role

    Pitt Blogs

    Pitt Blather

    Clearing Links After Last Empty Weekend

    Cardiac Hill

    Pitt Vs. Buffalo: Breaking Down The Week One Two-Deep

  6. JAL says:


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    3-Pirates Prospects

    Draft Picks Signing Tracker

  7. JAL says:

    5 Three Rivers Burgh Blog

    Game 134 Recap – Astros 7, Pirates 4

    6 Rumbunter

    This Week in Real Pirateball: The Bucs Can’t Miss the Disabled List

    Pittsburgh Pirates Strikeout 16 Times, Fall to Astros 7-4

    7 Bucs Dugout

    Wandy Rodriguez, New-Look Astros Beat Pirates, 7-4

  8. JAL says:

    8 Raise the Jolly Roger

    A Big Whiff


    10 Bradenton Times

    Marauders Move Within Two Games of Playoff Berth

    11 Houston Chronicle

    Astros 7, Pirates 4: Wandy strikes out 13 in comeback victory

    Sale of Astros to Crane still on hold as MLB continues investigation

  9. JAL says:

    12 Charleston Daily Mail

    Vasquez, Power erupt for 17-9 win over Legends

    13 The Observer

    Diary of a Pirates fan, pg. 2–pg–2.html?nav=5010

  10. James Thompson says:

    I still object to Terrelle Pryor’s retroactive suspension on the grounds that what he did at college is hardly the NFL’s problem, and it will not even begin to combat corruption in college sports.

  11. James Thompson says:

    The Pirates have already at least temporarily shut down Kevin Correia and Paul Maholm, and now, it may well be Stan Karstens. Ah well, it was fun while it lasted, before the overworked pitching arms gave out only too soon.

  12. James Thompson says:

    And now we know at least partly why Mr. Harrison let Roger Goodell, Ben, and a couple of others have it in that recent magazine article.

  13. Arriba Wilver says:

    Could not agree more on Batch’s lament not getting any traction. Make that 4 deaf ears (and counting).

    I didn’t know Karstens was letting everyone know after his previous start his shoulder was hurting. I remember after he was walking off the mound at the end of that start that the announcers commented on him looking uncomfortable. Better Nate than lever, I guess.

  14. Bucco_Jax says:

    I wonder how many opposing pitchers this season have earn career high strikeout totals against the Pirates this year? It seems almost ever story this year, even when they were winning, included the line… ” had a career high ## strikeouts.”

    Opposing pitchers have got to love seeing Pittsburgh on the schedule, they know they have a good chance of looking like Cliff Lee for at least one night. And if it’s Lee pitching, well…you get the idea.

    Then there’s the bullpen….remember when the bullpen was our “strength”?

    Truthfully, it’s seems this team is really not much better than they were last year….they just got all of their wins in a big clump at the beginning of the year instead of spread out over the whole season. Now they are getting our big clump of losses…

    God this is painful.

  15. Andy T says:


    Thank you for pointing out that anything that the commissioner does with respect to player discipline is something that can be collectively bargained. I think the far more compelling issue for the Steelers to discuss is whether or not the commissioner has treated all players equally.

    Also, marvelous observations on Twitter during the Pirate game last night.

  16. Eric Poole says:

    I’m one of those people who agrees with Batch on the Pryor matter (

    Pryor had a gun to his head (figuratively, of course). If he hadn’t taken Goodell’s deal, the league would have made him wait a year for the regular draft. Pryor could have sued, and would likely have won, but resolving the case would have taken even longer. And, once the player agreed to the suspension, the NFLPA wouldn’t have had much power to continue fighting that battle.

    For Pryor, taking the deal was the least odious option. Goodell is still the sole bad guy here. He’s got no business enforcing the NCAA’s rules, except for the fact that failing to do so puts jeopardizes the NFL’s relationship with its free minor league.

  17. Matt Jacobson says:

    The analysis is easy.
    In December, Pryor committed to playing the 2011 season with OSU.
    Pryor did not declare himself eligible for the April draft.

    When his half-truths and failure to fully cooperate with the NCAA came to light, Pryor avoided dealing directly with potential NCAA sanctions by leaving OSU.

    Under a strict interpretation of the NFL rules, Pryor was ineligible for the NFL supplemental draft. He had not been declared ineligible. He VOLUNTARILY left OSU. Simply put, Pryor brought this on himself by failing to be honest so that he could QB OSU in a BCS game. Had he simply declared himself eligible for the NFL draft in April, this wouldn’t be an issue.

    Pryor got a gift from Goodell. He should feel lucky that he was able to skirt the NFL rules and that he will be on the NFL sidelines this year. He knows it. His agent knows it. His lawyer knows it. The Player’s Union knows it.

    Declaring Goodell to be a bad guy here is simply misguided.

  18. Dejan,
    Not sure what you are proposing for Karstens?
    Shut him down? Skip a start? Take him out of rotation? Disabled List for fatigue?

    Seems as if Chris Resop and Jose Veras would have to be included in the same boat.

    There still is one full month to go in the season —— seems there is a lot to prove. Folks seem willing to bail on Resop and Veras after their possible overuse: “if we can’t depend on them in late innings, let’s get rid of them.”
    If Karstens is only able to be a 4 1/2 month starter rather than dependable for the full season . . . . . well, it seems to me he still has a lot to prove in the next month.

    Huntington insists that, although Karstens’ inning count is up significantly, “the reality is” Karstens’ PITCH COUNT is approximately the same as last year. Are you saying innings count more than pitches thrown? One would think that it would be more restful to be on the regular schedule of a starter for Karstens rather than the sporadic usage he faced last year to throw the same # of pitches.

    One of the most positive aspects of Charlie Morton’s season is, when he went through that “here comes last year’s Charlie” down performance time a few weeks ago, he has come back to throw multiple excellent outings, giving the team a good chance to win even if they did not.

    Unless Karstens is injured, I think he still has to prove that he is a bonafide 6-month Major League starter. Can he fight through these rough spots? Or is he only a spot starter/long man, because he cannot be counted on during the last 1/3 of the season?

  19. JAL says:


    Pirates already announced that Karstens will skip his next scheduled start

  20. pghboyinca says:

    Karstens had a great season by any standard and the toll of pitching extended innings or number of pitches over the career high should be watched closely. He is a valuable commodity and a fierce competitor, do you people actually watch the games? If he indicates that that there is any discomfort err on the side of caution becaus this season has now turned into the 18 that preceeded it, a joke.

    This team needs to find out who can contribute and get rid of the rest and eat the money. (I.E. Diaz). Pressley, Tabata, Cutch, should start in the outfield unless their is a specific reason to sit them. Ludwick? Lee? Wood?……Is that really a part of what will end this pathetic run of this city being humiliated by this sad sack franchise?

    How much confidence does anyone who isn’t paid by the PBC or strung out on heroin have in Huntingtons ability to sign a free agent to come in and help? Please help people who are curious understand how “the plan” is coming together.

    And speaking of Huntington how do they let him stay on without an extension? I would love to see both he and Coonelly get canned but either fire him or extend him. If he had any dignity or any other options he would demand it but I am sure he knows that he will be an advance scout if he gets let go so he is hanging on. How does Coonelly get by with his track record? What exactly has he brought to the party other than cliches and paranoia?

    Prior to last nights game I looked at the lineup posted and said the 6-7-8 batters were a complete disgrace and a testament on how bad this front office was in their 4th year of power. That was an hour BEFORE the game. 6-7-8 then went out and collectivley went 0-8 with 8 strikeouts. You can’t even make stuff like this up and yet there are some here who continue to insist that this F.O. is succeeding…………what a joke.

  21. JAL,
    I just read that ———— on the “other” newspaper site!!!

    My entreaty to Dejan was based on what I read in the Trib.

    I still believe Karstens——and Bucs——have bunches to prove in next 28 games.

  22. Jim says:

    I agree with PGH 100%… Well spoken, and so sad #19 and counting :( I wish I could say different, but yet, here we are. The pitching is what kept us alive thru July 20th of this year, and when they faltered, the losses are now adding up. This teams offense (lack there of) stinks.. No excuses for this, at all! 13 K’s to a team like Houston… no plate discipline… swinging at ball 1 the whole game. Keep Cutch, Tabata, Walker, GJones and Pressley (sp?) and let the rest go…the sad part is, our front office doesn’t know how to spot talent…and that’s very scarey…

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