Charlie Morton is “ahead of schedule” after hip surgery

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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.

Dodgers to retire Fernando Valenzuela’s No. 34 this summer

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
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LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Dodgers will retire the No. 34 jersey of pitcher Fernando Valenzuela during a three-day celebration this summer.

Valenzuela was part of two World Series champion teams, winning the 1981 Rookie of the Year and Cy Young awards. He was a six-time All-Star during his 11 seasons in Los Angeles from 1980-90.

He will be honored from Aug. 11-13 when the Dodgers host Colorado.

Valenzuela will join Pee Wee Reese, Tommy Lasorda, Duke Snider, Gil Hodges, Jim Gilliam, Don Sutton, Walter Alston, Sandy Koufax, Roy Campanella, Jackie Robinson and Don Drysdale with retired numbers.

“To be a part of the group that includes so many legends is a great honor,” Valenzuela said. “But also for the fans, the support they’ve given me as a player and working for the Dodgers, this is also for them.”