PITTSBURGH -- Charlie Morton's rehab route hit a slight detour Saturday, but this change in plans was a minor inconvenience for a veteran whose intention to open the season in the Bucs' rotation was foiled when he had to stay in Florida to continue recovery from fall labrum surgery.
The next leg on Morton's rehab route was supposed to be a Saturday outing against Yankees farmhands in an extended spring game. When "the other club cancelled," according to manager Clint Hurdle, Morton instead threw 55 pitches in a simulated game against Pirates Minor Leaguers.
"It went well. It was a step forward for him," said Hurdle, echoing reports from eyewitness Jim Benedict, Pirates special assistant to the GM, who oversaw the workout.
"It was a good day for him," Hurdle further cited Benedict's evaluation. "The delivery is syncing up to what we saw in '13-'14 in good stretches. He's getting work done, but there is more work to be done."
Such conservative assessment underscores that the Pirates are in no mind to rush the return of Morton, in the middle season of the three-year, $21 million contract he signed prior to the 2014 campaign. Morton's spot in the rotation is occupied by Vance Worley, who on Friday went six strong innings in a 6-3 victory over the Brewers.
Since joining the Bucs last June 15, Worley has gone 9-4. Morton went 6-12 in 2014, dealing for much of the season with the sports hernia that eventually led to the labrum problem corrected by Sept. 26 surgery.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.