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Karstens undergoes surgery, further weakening staff

CHICAGO -- One of Pirates manager Clint Hurdle's daily rituals -- providing updates on the club's injured players -- ended Saturday with this bulletin item: Jeff Karstens had surgery on his right arm a day earlier.

Dr. Neal ElAttrache debrided Karstens' rotator cuff and labrum Friday in Los Angeles. The initial prognosis is for Karstens to be able to begin a throwing program in 10-12 weeks -- the latest in a string of disheartening developments for the popular and combative pitcher.

Karstens has been sidelined all year, including Spring Training, with inflammation in his pitching shoulder.

Karstens is now clearly out of the picture, but rehab continues for two other right-handers working their way back to the Pirates' depleted rotation:

• Charlie Morton's scheduled rehab start Saturday night, in which he is expected to throw 95 pitches for Triple-A Indianapolis, could be his last. It will have him in line to face the Giants on Thursday on regular rest.

• James McDonald, considerably farther away, gets his next turn Tuesday, when he is expected to throw six innings or 90 pitches for Indianapolis.

The Pirates announced they will call up top prospect Gerrit Cole to have him fill the other hole in the rotation and make his Major League debut Tuesday against San Francisco. It places Cole and McDonald on parallel pitching schedules, affording the Bucs flexibility for ensuing moves.

Injuries to Wandy Rodriguez (tight forearm) and Jeanmar Gomez (on the DL with forearm tightness) have left A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano and Jeff Locke as the tenured parts of a five-man rotation.

Tom Singer is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer.
Read More: Pittsburgh Pirates, Charlie Morton, Gerrit Cole, James McDonald, Jeff Karstens