SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Matt Morris didn't raise a fuss, but pitching coach Dave Righetti said that the right-hander felt taken aback when he was asked to appear Saturday in a Minor League exhibition, instead of in the team's Cactus League game against Colorado. "I think he thought everybody was panicking," Righetti said, referring to Morris' 16.20 ERA in three exhibition appearances. That ERA didn't go away, but some of the concern over Morris evaporated on a 100-degree afternoon as he threw five solid innings against a Milwaukee Brewers' Class A team.
Righetti explained that Morris' remaining in Scottsdale was a simple matter of veteran's privilege. "He's earned the right," Righetti said. Morris initially might have wished he had made the four-hour round-trip to Tucson. But after allowing two runs and three hits in the first inning -- mirroring his regular-season pattern -- Morris blanked the Brewers on one hit for the rest of his stint. He walked one and struck out two while throwing 62 pitches. "I felt strong enough to go another inning," Morris said. "Then again, you don't want to overexert yourself." This, too, was encouraging for Morris. Righetti said that Morris lost 15 to 18 pounds recently when numerous Giants were stricken by the flu, which weakened him considerably. "He's not going to make any excuses," Righetti said. "So I'm making them for him." Morris complained that he still lacks command of his fastball, a top priority for virtually every pitcher. "It's the first and last. It's the only thing, really," Morris said. "Everything else works off that." "He's got to have that pitch and he knows it," Righetti echoed, pointing out that Morris likes to tantalize right-handed batters with outside fastballs. Nevertheless, Morris thrived with his curveball, which helped him record nine ground-ball outs. "Something about it seems to be there," he said. Despite feeling less than sharp, Morris wouldn't mind beginning the regular season immediately.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.