Morris ready to trust himself again

Morris ready to trust himself again

PITTSBURGH -- When Matt Morris takes the mound Saturday night at PNC Park, he'll do so with a clear head.

It's not so much that he'll be forgetting about what the first these first four weeks of the season have felt like. The memory of an 0-3 record and 9.15 ERA in four starts is not easily erased.

No, but he's ready to forget about a lot of the other stuff. And yes, "stuff" is the best word. It's all the extras that have crept into his mind.

He's ready to be simple. He's ready to go back to trusting himself and what he can do.

"When things aren't going well, you're very quick to change things," said Morris, who has not finished five innings in either of his past two starts. "I'm committing to that. I can't look at their weakness and throw it there if they're not my strengths. It's basically simplifying it back to what I can do. There are only a select number of things that I can do."

Morris said that his bullpen session with pitching coach Jeff Andrews following his last start -- one that Morris called afterward "one of the worst games I've ever pitched" -- went well. But then again, they all have.

"In the bullpen, it's easy," Morris said, smiling.

So when Morris faces the Phillies in the second game of a three-game intrastate series, he'll do so with the mentality of doing what he's done in the past to be successful. That's not changing his motion or concentrating on this mechanic or that. It's trusting his strengths, avoiding his weaknesses and eliminating the mentality that he has to change what has always worked.

The reason why Morris has searched for answers in recent weeks isn't a secret. The right-hander's velocity is down, which wouldn't be so much a problem if his location wasn't off kilter as well. But together, the two have been detrimental.

Morris has allowed twice as many walks and hits as innings pitched, and in his last two starts, he's allowed 14 runs in 8 2/3 innings. He's pitched past the fifth just once this year.

The veteran right-hander did admit that while he's had his share of adversity in his 11-year career, it's going to take having some encouraging outings again to be able to get his confidence level back to where it's been in the past. It's no secret, he said, that the confidence is hurting.

"It's not where you were physically when you were throwing 95 [mph], it's just feeling comfortable and being OK and making them hit the ball instead of hoping they might hit the ball," said Morris, who will be making his 276th start. "I want to see results. Until you see the results and pitch a great game, it's harder to feel back at that level where you were."

Pitching matchup
PIT: RHP Matt Morris (0-3, 9.15 ERA)
In Morris' last start on Monday at PNC Park, he got the hook early following two Marlins home runs. The veteran righty lasted only four innings and gave up eight runs on nine hits. It was the third consecutive loss for Morris, who hasn't won a game since Sept. 26. However, he does have a strong history against the Phillies. He is 5-3 with a 3.57 ERA against Philadelphia.

PHI: RHP Kyle Kendrick (1-2, 5.59 ERA)
The right-hander got roughed up in Denver's thin air on Tuesday, allowing five runs on eight hits in five innings. He received a no-decision when the Phillies came back to win. Kendrick has faced the Pirates once, securing a victory by allowing one run in seven innings.

Bucs bits
Shortstop Jack Wilson (strained left calf) continues to increase his on-field activity in Bradenton, Fla. Manager John Russell said the hope is to have Wilson back with the Pirates to begin the team's series against the Giants on May 6. Wilson is scheduled to play in a few Minor League games before returning to the big league club. ... Nate McLouth accompanied 13 children in a tour around PNC Park on Friday in the start of his community program -- "Nate's Lucky 13." McLouth also purchased tickets, T-shirts and food vouchers for the group and will continue to host children throughout the season. ... The Pirates wore their alternate red jerseys in Friday's game, marking the first time they had done so this season. The team will wear the jerseys for select Friday night home games this season. ... Xavier Nady extended his career-high hitting streak to 13 with a fifth-inning RBI double.

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On the Internet
 MLB.TV
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•  Official game notes

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On radio
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Up next
• Sunday: Pirates (Paul Maholm, 1-2, 4.22) vs. Phillies (Brett Myers, 2-1, 4.78), 1:35 p.m. ET
• Monday: Pirates (Ian Snell, 2-1, 4.45) at Mets (Johan Santana, 3-2, 3.12), 7:10 p.m. ET
• Tuesday: Pirates (Tom Gorzelanny, 1-3, 8.46) at Mets (Oliver Perez, 2-1, 3.62), 7:10 p.m. ET

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.