Five Thoughts: A healthy Morrow stunning in Padres debut

Five Thoughts: A healthy Morrow stunning in Padres debut

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

When healthy, Brandon Morrow  has been a very effective Major League pitcher.

The problem is, the 30-year-old right-hander hasn't been very healthy.

2014: Morrow missed two-thirds of the season due to a torn tendon sheath in his right hand.

2013: Morrow made only 10 starts for Toronto before his season ended on June 1 with an entrapped radial nerve in his right arm.

2012: Missed time on the 60-day disabled list with a strain of the left oblique muscle. Around the injury, Morrow went 10-7 with a 2.96 earned run average in 21 starts.

2011: His debut was delayed until April 23 due to forearm tightness first experienced in Spring Training. Morrow made 30 starts with the Blue Jays and was 11-11 with a 4.72 ERA and 203 strikeouts in 179 1/3 innings.

Morrow's medical history is why he was available as a free agent last winter. His performance when healthy is why Padres' general manager A.J. Preller was willing to gamble $2.5 million on signing Morrow.

Friday night, Morrow made his Padres debut. He shut out the Giants on four hits over seven innings at Petco Park. He issued three walks while striking out seven. Morrow threw 88 pitches with 56 going for strikes.

His Padres debut marked the first time since Sept. 27, 2012 (against the Yankees) that Morrow threw seven or more innings of shutout baseball.

All four of his pitches, the fastball, slider, change and curve were working.

"I felt good," Morrow said afterwards. "I was throwing all four of my pitches for strikes. This is what I've been waiting for. It felt good to be back out there. I had a lot of adrenaline going. For the first time since the start of spring training, I had a good hard slider going."

"Brandon has a lot of weapons," said Padres manager Bud Black. "Tonight was a snapshot of what he can do. Even at the end, the ball was coming out crisp."

Morrow has had only one minor problem with the Padres. He missed one start in spring training with a blister on the ring finger of his throwing hand.

A healthy Brandon Morrow in the No. 5 slot makes the Padres rotation look all the more formidable. And we're still awaiting the late May return of former National League ERA champion Josh Johnson

FROM THE SCOREBOOK:

• First baseman Yonder Alonso  is off to a .471 start at the plate (8-for-17) with a .529 on-base percentage. He was 1-for-2 Friday night with his fourth walk of the season. He also made an excellent stop of a sharp Casey McGehee  grounder in the seventh to start a 3-6-1 doubleheader that helped bail Morrow out of one of his few jams. Alonso entered Friday's game ranked third in the National League in batting average, tied for second in hits and fourth in on-base percentage.

Justin Upton  has hit safely in all five games of this season (5-for-20 with a double, triple and homer) and has a seven-game hitting streak dating back to the end of last season when he was with Atlanta.

• With Craig Kimbrel  here, Joaquin Benoit's  chances of picking up saves has greatly diminished. But Benoit is credited with both of the Padres' first two wins this season.

Tim Lincecum's  bid for a third no-hitter against the Padres lasted only one hitter and ended on one of the stranger hits we've seen for a long time. Cory Spangenberg,  hitting second in the order, topped a Lincecum pitch to the left side. The ball started in foul territory, but the English from the swing carried it back into fair territory as Spangenberg raced to first.