Morton a candidate to start on Thursday

Morton a candidate to start on Thursday

Morton a candidate to start on Thursday

CHICAGO - Fresh off what manager Clint Hurdle called "his best outing to date," Charlie Morton is the Pirates' fallback option to start on Thursday if Wandy Rodriguez cannot.

Rodriguez, who left his previous start last Wednesday after retiring one batter because of tightness in the forearm, is scheduled to throw a bullpen on Monday in PNC Park. If the results of that workout are not encouraging, the lefty will be placed on the disabled list and Morton would step into his spot.

The Pirates did not confirm these plans, since Morton remains on the 60-day disabled list and Hurdle disdains dealing with hypothetical issues.

However, the Plan B to make that start against the Giants clearly is Morton, who made a rehab start Saturday night for Triple-A Indianapolis and therefore would be going on normal four-days rest on Thursday.

Morton went 6 1/3 innings Saturday night, throwing "a very good mix" of 96 pitches, according to Hurdle. He allowed Norfolk six hits and two runs, with one walk and four strikeouts.

"He had a good sinker: 10 ground ball outs," the manager elaborated. "It all depends on how Wandy's bullpen goes. Charlie could actually be one of the guys considered."

Morton is in the final stages of his comeback from Tommy John surgery. The Thursday start would come on almost the anniversary of that operation, which he underwent on June 14, 2012.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.