Morton makes successful debut after hip surgery

Morton makes successful debut after hip surgery

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Charlie Morton didn't seem to think it was a big deal. But to others, seeing the right-hander pitch against batters for the first time since hip surgery in October definitely was noteworthy.

Significant enough for catcher Tony Sanchez, pitching coach Ray Searage and the batters who'd faced Morton to welcome him off the mound with hearty handshakes, following his 35-pitch exercise.

"It was positive," Morton said after having faced Josh Harrison, Brandon Boggs and Nick Evans for sets of 15 and 20 pitches. "Part of the process, not a huge deal. I wish I could have been more accurate in the zone. You wonder how your stuff looks to [the hitters]. They said it's there, that the sinker was around the plate."

While other pitchers in camp have already thrown two BP sessions, it was Morton's first turn. Though it had been scheduled days ago, it took on added significance coming an hour after A.J. Burnett had to leave the field bleeding around his right eye after getting hit by his own foul bunt.

The severity of Burnett's injury will not be known until the results of tests he will undergo Thursday in Pittsburgh. But in the event his Spring Training is interrupted, affecting his season-opening availability, Morton's progress becomes more important.

Morton is scheduled to next throw on Saturday, when he will stretch out to 40 pitches.