BRADENTON, Fla. -- Jeff Karstens considered several variables this offseason when deciding where to pitch. He wanted to go somewhere and start. He wanted to be comfortable. But he also thought about how the team he selected would affect his wife, who works in Baltimore.
"She doesn't know where I'm going to be playing," Karstens said. "It's either in Arizona or Florida [for spring training]. I think that's the hardest part. The playing factor didn't really bother me.
"If they wanted me back here, I'd be more than willing to come back, but if not I understand the way business works."
The Pirates wanted Karstens back and eventually re-signed him. He agreed to a one-year, $2.5 million contract in January.
Though the Pirates cut ties with Karstens at the non-tender deadline, they kept in touch. The rotation had openings after a broken arm delayed Francisco Liriano's contract, and Karstens decided to return.
"There was always options," Karstens said. "It was just a matter of me being comfortable and the opportunity being good. I think that’s something that every guy looks for when going to sign somewhere, is the opportunity."
Karstens had a 3.97 ERA last season but pitched only 902/3 innings because of shoulder and hip injuries. He started his offseason workouts two weeks after the season ended in an attempt to stay healthy.
"He's very optimistic about his health and the offseason program he was able to put into place," manager Clint Hurdle said. "At the end of the day, that was the biggest question mark in all that happened and we're more than happy to bring him back and get him engaged in a rotational opportunity."
Karstens said the physical aspect of staying healthy was one thing, but he was interested in improving his approach.
"Just really working on the focus part of every day," he said. "Knowing no matter what, don't be satisfied with what you did the day before."
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