Morton throws two innings in spring debut
BRADENTON, Fla. — Pirates right-hander Charlie Morton remained on track to be ready for the start of the regular season by tossing two scoreless innings Monday in a 4-1 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies.
"The training wheels are off," manager Clint Hurdle said. "It was very good to see him out there today."
Facing a lineup stacked with lefty batters, Morton worked two scoreless innings, allowed four hits and struck out two. He had hip surgery in October and is about a week behind the other pitchers in camp.
"My command wasn't really there," Morton said. "I fell behind guys. But I got it out of the way. It was kind of a different experience than what I've experienced thus far in camp."
Morton said his sinker, which is a better out pitch against right-handed batters than lefties, was just "OK." He also threw some curves and cutters with decent results.
"I'm sure at times I was just kind of trying to manipulate the ball in there and make it do something," Morton said. "When I get more reps, I'll be able to feel the ball a lot better."
Phillies starter Vance Worley threw four perfect innings and struck out eight. The Pirates were hitless until the seventh inning, when Gorkys Hernandez reached on an infield single. Hernandez stole second and scored on a fielding error by third baseman Michael Martinez.
Jordy Mercer had the only other hit for the Pirates, who've gotten a total of six hits over their past two games.
"We've got guys working on things," Hurdle said. "You never like to get shut down like we have been, but we're going to keep working."
• Right-handers Brad Lincoln and Kyle McPherson were scratched from their scheduled outings yesterday. Lincoln is day to day with tightness in his right calf, while McPherson is day to day due to dead arm symptoms. "It's just a strain," Lincoln said. "They'll keep me off the mound for a couple of days."
• The Pirates beat the Netherlands, 8-2, in a scrimmage in St. Petersburg, Fla. Michael McKenry had six RBI, including a two-run homer and a three-run triple. Jeff Karstens tossed four scoreless innings, allowed five hits and struck out four.
• Former Chicago Cubs third baseman Kevin Orie, an Upper St. Clair native, will be an analyst for pregame and postgame shows on KDKA-FM, the Pirates' radio flagship station.
• Spring training is entering the phase when rosters begin to shake down. "Things are starting to heat up again," general manger Neal Huntington said. "The next week or so is when trade conversations will start." The Washington Nationals, seeking an everyday center fielder, have put left-hander John Lannan on the trade block. The Nationals inquired about the availability of outfielder Starling Marte but were rebuffed by the Pirates.
• Tom Prince, minor league hitting coordinator and manager of rookie league Bradenton, received the Chuck Tanner "We Are Fam-a-lee" Fund Award. The award is given annually to a minor league staffer who exemplifies Tanner's optimism, enthusiasm, work ethic and leadership.