"We want to make sure Charlie is taken care of, that he's given every opportunity to be as sharp as he can be when he comes in," said Hurdle, who implied the staff has already decided how to work him back in and does not need the extra time to make that decision.
"We have a good idea of what we want to do," Hurdle said.
It is no secret that the most tenuous spots belong to Vance Worley and Jeff Locke. Worley has allowed 17 hits and eight runs (six earned) in nine innings in his last two starts, failing to get a strikeout in either, and Locke has no wins and a 7.27 ERA in his last five starts.
Morton has been on the disabled list all season, recovering from labrum repair surgery in September.
In two rehab starts, one each at Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis, Morton has allowed one earned run in 14 innings, with 13 strikeouts and two walks.
"We like the way things have gone. One more time out will put him in position to merge right into a Major League season," Hurdle said.
"I haven't felt this good since 2013," said Morton, before correcting himself. "Early in 2014, I felt really good, too. This is the best since."
Before taking the Wrigley Field bullpen mound to throw under pitching coach Searage's vigilant watch, Morton reported to Hurdle.
"It was good to hear what he had to say. He didn't try to overcook it. Very short and succinct," Hurdle said. "Very spot on: What he felt he had done well (in the Thursday start for the Indians), what worked ... good sink (on his pitches). Eleven base hits, but a bunch of them just ground balls that rolled through the infield."
Yep, that's the Charlie Morton fans know. Sounds like he is back. Soon, he actually will be.