Charlie Morton has been working on a mechanical adjustment this Spring, and in the process, has been struggling on the mound. On Saturday, Morton abandoned that adjustment in order to focus on getting ready for the season.
“Those kind of things are going to have to go to the back burner right now, and I’ve got to get ready for the season,” Morton said, noting that getting outs is the emphasis now, rather than focusing on adjustments.
“There’s some things that, along the way, you have to learn to incorporate them in your delivery, and if they don’t work, they don’t work,” Morton said. “If they do, they do, and you stick with them and you just get better. This is a tough time of year to gauge that kind of thing.”
Morton had a decent outing yesterday, throwing just 88 pitches through six innings, and giving up two earned runs. The crazy weather in Bradenton, with a lot of high winds, led to some of the damage against him.
“Today was pretty good,” pitching coach Ray Searage said of the outing. “He threw 88 pitches, and 78 were all fastballs with two-seamers mixed in there. When he did throw the off-speed pitch, that got them off his fastball. Right now the more reps he can get in getting that arm path, and getting out in front, and staying back — that’s a positive sign.”
There haven’t been any injury concerns with Morton this Spring, and he said that his hip feels great after recovering from the hernia injury last year. He returned this year trying to incorporate his pickoff move into his delivery, aimed at staying healthy on the mound.
“I want to get better. Anytime I have a chance I think I can get better making an adjustment, I want to try it,” Morton said. “It’s just a tough time, at this point right now, to put a lot of emphasis on mechanics.”
The Pirates are now getting Morton back to the pitcher he has been since his complete overhaul in 2011. Searage was encouraged by the results on that switch today.
“He’s getting ready for the season now,” Searage said. “Today was a lot better. He was back to his old self.”
Morton has been a very under-rated pitcher the last few years, looking like a middle of the rotation starter when healthy. Unfortunately, the health aspect hasn’t been consistent. He will get one more start this year for the Pirates to decide if he’s ready for the start of the season. Even if he might need an extra start to get back to his old self, he won’t miss much time. And if he can get back to his old self, the Pirates will have a good pitcher for as long as he stays healthy.
Polanco Heating Up
Gregory Polanco went to Pirate City this week, getting some extra at-bats. Since that time, he has returned to see his bat heating up in Spring Training games. Polanco has homered in each of the last two games.
“Down in the minor league camp is where it all started,” Hurdle said on Saturday. “He was able to take it into yesterday. Was able to get more good swings today. Staying on the ball. Held his backside better so much for me. That’s been the biggest difference.”
Hurdle said that Polanco is staying firm on his backside, and is getting the barrel of the bat out in front. Polanco said that he was working on his timing while at Pirate City, allowing the ball to travel deep in the zone, and trusting his hands.
Last year Polanco struggled in his debut at the Major League level. He was on fire when he came up, but quickly struggled after the first ten days in the majors. He’s got the hitting skills to be an impact player, but will need to adjust to the majors.
“They saw video of me, and they got to know me,” Polanco said of opposing pitchers. “I have to adjust to them. I just have to keep working, have my timing there, and trust my hands.”
**Stolmy Pimentel will get the start today. The Pirates aren’t necessarily looking at him as a starting option, but found a way to get him some additional innings with the way the schedule worked out. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the final audition for Pimentel. Arquimedes Caminero seems to have a roster spot locked down, and Pimentel hasn’t done much to put either Jared Hughes or John Holdzkom (whoever doesn’t get sent down for Caminero) in the minors. He’s got some good upside, but he remains a project, and the Pirates already have a few of those on their roster showing more promise than Pimentel.
**A.J. Burnett threw six innings at Pirate City yesterday. He threw 96 pitches, with 64 strikes, and generated a lot of ground ball outs. Pedro Alvarez joined him at Pirate City, rotating between minor league games to get additional at-bats. Tony Sanchez was also there catching Burnett, and seems to have turned into Burnett’s personal catcher.
Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.