BRADENTON, Fla. -- It is easy to forget that a year ago, Kyle McPherson was considered the frontrunner for the rotation spot that eventually went to Jeff Locke. It turned out all right for the Pirates, who got an All-Star first half from Locke that pointed them toward the postseason.
McPherson couldn't even put up a good fight. He battled elbow problems in the spring and into the early Minor League season before getting shut down and undergoing Tommy John reconstruction surgery.
Not the best place to be, but at least McPherson is in a good place now: In the Pirate City locker room, 15 feet from Charlie Morton, who underwent the same operation a year earlier and has already made an emphatic comeback.
"Having someone who's been there, done that to talk to is huge, to help you through the ups and downs of rehab," McPherson said. "There is a bit of a bond there. At the beginning of rehab last year, I was texting him and he would reach out and encourage me along the way."
McPherson said he is about to begin the flat-ground throwing phase of his program, and after two weeks of that would try the mound.
"Getting on the mound again is what I'm looking forward to," McPherson said.
Morton made it back to the Majors on June 13, 2013, one day shy of the anniversary of his surgery. A similar timetable would have McPherson pitching for the Bucs this July 9.
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.