Morton turns in second stellar spring start

Morton turns in second stellar spring start

LAKELAND, Fla. -- After having started off behind everybody else the last two Spring Trainings, Charlie Morton has turned the tables.

Morton, who had hip surgery in 2011 and Tommy John surgery in 2012, on Tuesday became the first Pirates pitcher this spring to go three innings.

Morton did it so smoothly -- Don Kelly, with a two out double in the second, was the only baserunner against him -- that his toughest task may have been getting off the bench for a third time.

"Those ups and downs ... it's different," Morton said. "That's the reason why we do it; it's part of the process."

Morton went two hitless innings in his first start on Thursday against the Yankees, and he made it a point to do more pitching and less throwing this time.

"I started to pitch to the hitter -- who's up there, what's he trying to do? -- as opposed to throwing pitches just for the sake of throwing," he said. "That's how I'd pitch in a [regular-season] game. I threw a couple more offspeed pitches for strikes than the last time. Make sure the sinker's there, and we're good to go."

Clint Hurdle thought Morton was good to go, too.

"A very efficient outing," the manager said. "A good sinker, mixed in his offspeed stuff with the breaking ball, and pitched with a lot of commitment."

Tom Singer is a reporter for 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.