Charlie Morton, who's on his way back after having hip surgery in September, thinks he'll be ready for the beginning of the season, Rob Biertempfel reports.
“Everything is normal,” Morton said. “The one thing they're monitoring more than anything is my running. But everything else is right on track as usual.”
If Morton is, in fact, ready when April rolls around, that could create some interesting decisions for the Pirates that they might otherwise be able to postpone. He'll be in the Pirates' rotation, along with Francisco Liriano, A.J. Burnett and Gerrit Cole. That leaves one available rotation spot for Vance Worley and Jeff Locke, both of whom are out of options. Unless something changes between now and then, it seems obvious to me that Worley is the better choice of the two, but the problem either way is that both Worley and Locke are too valuable to risk losing via waivers.
That could mean one of them will head to the bullpen, but as we discussed on the podcast this week, moving the displaced pitcher to the bullpen reduces his ability to help as a spot starter, since he won't be stretched out. A trade, possibly for a starter who's slightly less valuable but who can be optioned, might be a possibility.
Of course, maybe Burnett will field his bunt attempt with his face again, and all this will be moot.