Pirates' Charlie Morton Steps Up Rehab Program

 The Pittsburgh Pirates only list four starters in their projected depth chart for 2013.  Charlie Morton, who will not be available on opening day, still hopes to be number five.

Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that Morton, 29, has been rehabbing in Bradenton at the teams' Pirate City facility.  The 6'5", 230 lb. right hander  managed only nine starts in 2012 before he fell victim to the disease that is sweeping through MLB pitching staffs, damaged ligaments in the throwing elbow.  Morton underwent the procedure known as Tommy John surgery to repair the elbow on June 14.

When asked if he plans to return to the Pirates this summer, Morton's reply was "Absolutely. One-hundred percent yes".  The former Atlanta Brave (acquired in 2009 for Nate McLouth) has been throwing long toss, 75 daily throws progressing from 60 to 120 feet. Last week he began doing so on back-to-back days. Morton's schedule is for him to start throwing from a mound in late January to early February, and to return to game action about midway through the season.

2013 will be a decision making year for the Pirates, as Morton would be arbitration eligible going into 2014.
Charlie will not only need to hope that number five starter slot is still available mid-season, but that he can perform well enough to merit remaining with this team on the rise.

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