UPDATE: That was fast. According to Michael Sanserino of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Morton had Tommy John surgery today in Pensacola, Florida. He will miss the rest of the season and figures to be in rehab-mode for the early part of 2013.
11:51 PM: Charlie Morton has been on the disabled list since late May with an elbow injury and now the Pirates fear the right-hander may need season-ending Tommy John surgery.
Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports that Morton was working his way back from the DL when he “tweaked” his elbow during a bullpen session Sunday, at which point the Pirates shut him down again and sent him to be examined by a specialist.
Morton was a pleasant surprise last season, starting 29 games with a 3.83 ERA for his first sustained big-league success at age 28, but this year the extreme ground-baller has been sidelined first by hip surgery and now by what may prove to be significant elbow problems.
Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area hints that the Giants may be done with outfielder Hunter Pence. It’s not clear just how seriously the club is contemplating such a decision, but there are six days remaining on Pence’s rehab assignment, at which point they’ll be able to recall him, reassign him to the minors or release him.
The 35-year-old outfielder has struggled to make a full recovery after spraining his right thumb during the first week of the season. Pence bounced back for a 17-game run with the Giants in April, during which he slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 with one double and one stolen base in 61 plate appearances, but was eventually placed on the disabled list with recurring soreness in his finger. He currently sports a promising .318/.359/.388 batting line with four extra-base hits (including a grand slam) over 92 PA in Triple-A Sacramento.
Despite his recent resurgence in Triple-A, the Giants may not need the additional outfield depth just yet. Mac Williamson, who was recalled in the wake of Pence’s DL assignment, has already cemented the starting role in left field and is off to a strong start at the plate as well. Of course, if the Giants decide to say a premature goodbye to their veteran outfielder (who, it should be said, helped them to two World Series championships over the last seven seasons), it’ll cost them the remaining balance on his $18.5 million salary for 2018.