Charlie Morton, Pirates avoid arbitration with one-year contract

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The Pirates announced this evening that they have avoided arbitration with right-hander Charlie Morton by agreeing to a new contract.

Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Morton will get a $2 million base salary, which is a slight cut in pay from the $2.445 million he made in 2012. The 29-year-old right-hander had a 4.65 ERA and 25/11 K/BB ratio over 50 1/3 innings this past season prior to undergoing Tommy John surgery in June.

The Pirates will be without Morton for the early part of 2013, but he could be ready to contribute around midseason if all goes well.

Mike Fiers may not be ready for start of regular season due to back issue

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Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports that Tigers starter Mike Fiers is dealing with a back issue and may not be ready for the start of the season. Manager Ron Gardenhire characterized the injury as a “stiff back” and added, “Maybe a little bit of a bulging disk or something like that.”

Fiers, 32, signed a one-year, $6 million deal with the Tigers in December. He has had a forgettable spring, yielding 12 runs on 10 hits and eight walks with seven strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings.

Fiers had a rotation spot locked up along with Michael Fulmer, Jordan Zimmermann, and Francisco Liriano. Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris were battling it out for the No. 5 spot. If Fiers opens the regular season on the 10-day disabled list, both could have spots in the rotation.