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Monday, December 5, 2022

This Date in Pirates History: November 12

Born on this date in 1983 is current Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher, Charlie Morton. He has pitched three seasons for the Pirates since coming over to Pittsburgh in the Nate McLouth trade on June 3, 2009. Prior to the trade he had gone 4-8 6.15 in 15 starts with the Atlanta Braves in 2008. Following the trade, Morton was thrown into the Pirates starting rotation where he went 5-9 4.55 in 18 starts, finishing his season with a complete game shutout of the Chicago Cubs on September 30th. In mid-August that same Cubs team scored 10 runs off Morton before he was lifted in the second inning without recording an out.

Morton struck out 110 batters in 2011

In 2010 Morton struggled the first two months before being sent to AAA where he went 4-4 3.82 in 14 starts. Following his promotion to the big leagues, Morton struggled in his first start back, leaving him with a 10.03 ERA. He finished the year much better though as he lowered his season ERA in each of his last six starts, getting it down to 7.57 on the next to last day of the season. His 2011 season surprised many who had written him off as a potential starter. He finished with a 10-10 record, cut his ERA in half to 3.83 and he was able to pitch 171.2 innings, throwing two complete games including his second career shutout against the Cincinnati Reds on May 18th. Morton had off-season hip surgery to repair a torn labrum, which has six month recovery time, so he missed the beginning of the 2012 season.

Morton came back for nine starts in 2012 and struggled, then needed Tommy John Surgery. He returned in June of 2013 and made 20 starts, going 7-4, 3.26 in 116 innings. He made one playoff start and lost against St Louis, allowing two runs in 5.2 innings. He signed a three-year extension prior to the 2014 season, but missed time due to a hip injury, which will cost him the early part of the 2015 season. In five seasons in Pittsburgh he has a 32-53 4.31 record in 119 starts.

Also born on this date in 1964 was big lefty reliever, Dave Otto, who pitched for the Pirates in 1993. He started his career with the Oakland A’s, briefly pitching each season from 1987-90, pitching just nine games total over those four seasons. He then got two extended looks with the Cleveland Indians, posting a 2-8 record in 1991 and improving to 5-9 the next year although he posted a 7.06 ERA in his 16 starts and two relief appearances. The Pirates drafted him from the Indians during the minor league draft portion of the winter meetings in December of 1992. Pittsburgh used him as a starter the first two months and he went 2-3 4.43 in eight starts. He was moved to the bullpen in June, where he lowered his ERA to 4.09 through late July but a very poor outing against the Phillies, followed by two subpar appearances spelled the end of his Pirates career. He was released in mid-August, finishing with a 3-4 5.03 record in 68 innings. He played one more season, for the Cubs, before retiring.

On this date in 1983 the Pirates sold pitcher Bob Owchinko to the Cincinnati Reds. The Pirates originally acquired him from the Cleveland Indians in the Bert Blyleven trade. Before he could play a game for the Pirates he was traded to the Oakland A’s in exchange for pitcher Ernie Camacho. Owchinko pitched in relief for Oakland for two seasons before signing with Pittsburgh as a free agent in May of 1983. The Pirates sent him to AAA and switched him back to the starting role where he went 10-6 4.25 with 124 strikeouts in 137.2 innings pitched. He was a September call-up and he made his Pittsburgh debut in the 9th inning of game two of a September 5th doubleheader against the Cardinals. He allowed a home run to the first batter he faced, Andy Van Slyke, and then a double to the next batter before being taken out. It was his only appearance in a Pirates uniform. Owchinko was the 5th overall pick in the 1976 amateur draft and had a 37-60 4.28 career record.

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John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.


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