PITTSBURGH -- Pirates starter Charlie Morton said his injured right hip didn't feel as good as he hoped it would after a rehab start for Double-A Altoona on Thursday. A Major League return this season is uncertain for Morton, who has been dealing with hip trouble since June 2 and was placed on the disabled list with a sports hernia on Aug. 17.
"I had hoped it would feel really good," Morton said Saturday. "But at this point in the year, with what's going on, I don't think it was realistic to have those expectations. I didn't really have those expectations, but I did hope to feel better -- a lot better. My arm feels good, the rest of my body feels really good."
It's just the hip that is bothering the right-handed sinkerballer. The injury has been an issue for more than two months, but Morton pitched through it before going on the DL two weeks ago, hoping time off would help calm inflammation in his hip and be otherwise beneficial.
Morton threw four innings and 73 pitches for Altoona, in what will be his last chance to pitch in the Minors as affiliates' seasons draw to a close. Morton, who had a 6.58 ERA in his last five starts before going on the DL, said he may try to throw a simulated game at some point, but there is no next step set in stone.
After being placed on the DL, Morton said he wanted to be able to rejoin the Pirates down the stretch. He reiterated that wish on Saturday, even if it is in a bullpen role -- which he said he is open to. Though, just as he learned Thursday, goals following injuries don't always come to fruition.
"My hope is that I can contribute. And that means me going out and doing a good job on the field," Morton said. "It doesn't mean just me going out there. It's the kind of thing where I have to get the job done."
Morton, 30, has dealt with hip issues before. He had surgery on his left hip after the 2012 season to repair a torn labrum. Morton said he is keeping "all options on the table" in regards to surgery on this hip, but he knows the challenges undergoing surgery in the offseason can bring, and he would prefer to avoid them.
"I really, really don't want to go through another surgery," Morton said. "It's not fun in any way, shape or form. It doesn't allow for a relaxing offseason. It's just one of those things where I've already gone through it."
Stephen Pianovich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.