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Pirates notebook: Well-rested Morris gets call-up

Rob Biertempfel
| Tuesday, April 30, 2013, 3:51 p.m.
Pirates pitcher Bryan Morris throws live batting practice Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2013, during spring training at Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates pitcher Bryan Morris throws live batting practice Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2013, during spring training at Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla.

MILWAUKEE — It's an understatement to say reliever Bryan Morris had a fresh arm when he was called up Tuesday from Triple-A Indianapolis. The reliever has made just six outings to that point, including one earlier this month with the Pirates.

Maybe Morris just wants to keep pitching into his 40s or 50s.

“At nine innings a month, I should be able to last awhile, huh?” Morris said.

Morris filled the roster opening that was created when ineffective left-hander Jonathan Sanchez was designated for assignment.

In his first stint with the Pirates, Morris tossed three hitless innings April 15. He was sent back to Indy the next day, then made three one-inning appearances and got three saves.

“The limited work, I don't have any control over that,” Morris said. “I don't know why, and I don't want to know why.”

Manager Clint Hurdle said the Pirates figured Morris would be getting a recall, so they kept him in a “holding pattern” the past few days to avoid overworking him.

Contreras coming Friday

Morris might not be with the Pirates long. Hurdle said reliever Jose Contreras (elbow surgery) likely will join the Pirates on Friday in time for the start of a series against the Washington Nationals.

Tuesday, Contreras threw one scoreless inning in Indy's 9-2 win over Gwinnett. Contreras has made six minor league outings, including three for Indy.

“If he feels good (Wednesday), that will be the end of his rehab and I'd anticipate him joining us Friday,” Hurdle said.

Liriano dominates

Left-hander Francisco Liriano (broken right arm) started Tuesday for Indianapolis. He worked six innings (82 pitches/60 strikes) and gave up one run and four hits and struck out nine.

In five rehab starts, including two for Indy, Liriano has a 3.24 ERA and is holding opponents to a .200 batting average. He's gotten 27 strikeouts in 16 13 innings.

“As we try to do with all our guys in spring training, we try to get through 23-25 innings before we deem them major league ready, from an endurance standpoint,” Hurdle said. “We've got him scripted to make another (minor league) start and get to 100 pitches.”

Liriano is on track to join the Pirates around May 10. Right-hander Jeanmar Gomez will make two spot starts until Liriano is ready. Gomez threw 67 pitches Friday in a long relief outing, and pitching coach Ray Searage expects him to reach that mark when he starts Wednesday against Milwaukee.

“We want Gomey to give us as much as he can for as long as he can,” Searage said. “(The bullpen) will pick up the rest. We'll have to watch how 67 looks. What I'm looking for is quality pitches, efficiency, strikes. Then we'll see where we are in innings and pitches.”

Sanchez: What happened?

Searage tried to tweak Sanchez's delivery so the left-hander would be more deceptive. Sanchez (0-3, 11.85 ERA) made an effort to change but couldn't carry it through into games. He kept tipping his pitches and getting hammered.

“He's got to bend at the waist,” Searage said. “He was fine with it (warming up) in the bullpen. But in the game, he'd stand straight up, spin off and (batters) could see the ball coming a mile away. Sometimes, it's hard for veteran pitchers to make an adjustment like that.”

Snider, Walker updates

Travis Snider (sore right oblique) was available off the bench Tuesday night and said he hoped to be back in the lineup Wednesday.

Neil Walker (cut on right hand) played catch and fielded grounders Tuesday, but he is at least a couple of days away from being able to swing a bat. “As soon as (the cut) fuses together and there's no pulling, I'll be fine,” Walker said. He expects to have the stitches removed Saturday.

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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