Morton takes big stride toward return

Morton takes big stride toward return

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Right-hander Charlie Morton on Saturday moved a significant step closer to catching up with the rest of the Pirates' pitching staff with a 40-pitch round of batting practice at McKechnie Field.

Morton is on a delayed schedule as he works his way back from hip surgery in October.

"His stuff, his arm, the way the ball was coming out of his hand -- it all looked good. And he felt good, health-wise, which is the main thing we have to look at," said pitching coach Ray Searage, who stayed back to watch Morton throw before joining the rest of the club for Saturday's Grapefruit League opener against the Blue Jays.

Barring any setbacks, Morton is scheduled to throw an inning in Wednesday's "B" game, rest a day, throw a bullpen, then rest two more days before making his first Grapefruit appearance.

According to that timeline, Morton would make his spring debut on March 12 in Bradenton against the Phillies.