Charlie Morton was a nice surprise for the Pirates last season, posting a 3.93 ERA in 172 innings after coming into the year with a 5.98 career mark, but he underwent hip surgery in October and is not expected to be ready for Opening Day.
However, manager Clint Hurdle said yesterday that Morton is “ahead of schedule” in his recovery, telling Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review:
He’s knocked down every challenge we’ve put in front of him. There’s been no hesitation, no setback. The velocity and arm strength are showing signs of a guy who’s in a good place.
Good news, although because Morton was initially given a 4-6 month recovery timetable “ahead of schedule” could still mean missing most of April. He’s thrown five bullpen sessions so far and is happy with how his arm feels, so it sounds like the key will avoiding a setback.