Speedy McCutchen off to a fast start

Pirates Notebook

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LOS ANGELES -- For Andrew McCutchen, the success on the basepaths in the opening series resulted from his focus on his starts.

McCutchen stole two bases in three games against the Philadelphia Phillies, and he credited his emphasis on the first few steps -- on steal attempts and out of the batter's box.

"That's what I'm working on, just having a better start," he said. "I'm feeling good so far. I've got a couple stolen bags, just have to keep going from there."

Alex Presley and Jose Tabata also have a steal each, and the Pirates had not been caught stealing going into the game Tuesday against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Manager Clint Hurdle has stressed that the Pirates must be aggressive but smart when stealing bases. Last season, they were caught stealing 52 times in 160 attempts, a 68 percent success rate.

McCutchen stole 33 bases in 2010, but 10 fewer last season. He spent part of the offseason at the IMG Academy near the Pirates' spring training facility in Bradenton, Fla., working with speed coaches to improve his sprinting technique.

"I just have to be confident in the work that I did this offseason," he said. "Just go into the season with that confidence, knowing that you can do it and knowing you worked hard toward it. Just go out and do it."

Morton return Saturday?

Charlie Morton will make his next start Saturday, Hurdle said, although where he will do so has not been determined.

After his rehabilitation start Monday with Class AAA Indianapolis went well, it appears he is on track to rejoin the team over the weekend.

"Without complication, I would anticipate we're probably leaning toward bringing him back in the rotation here," Hurdle said.

Morton pitched 72/3 innings and allowed one run and six hits Monday. He threw 98 pitches, walked one and struck out eight.

"He was efficient with his pitches," Hurdle said. "A little rusty in the first, settled down. He was able to sink the ball in, four seam [fastballs] away, some cutters to the left-handers. The curveball was pretty much there for him the whole game, the changeup was a non-factor. [He] sunk the ball well."

Morton started the season on the 15-day disabled list to allow him more time to build his pitch count. He is eligible to come off the DL Friday and was in uniform Tuesday for the Pirates.

"When they told me what the plan was for me, they said, you're going to go make a rehab start and you're going to come pitch in San Francisco," Morton said.

Happy 50th

The Dodgers celebrated the 50th anniversary of Dodger Stadium before their home opener Tuesday. Members of the 1962 Dodgers, including MVP Maury Wills, were honored on the field and the Beach Boys performed the national anthem and sang "Surfer Girl" before the game.

"The 50th anniversary's going to be cool for everybody here," Hurdle said. "I always think back to my first entrance in here as a player. It was electric.

"This place, for not being around a long time, has a lot of great history, a lot of great tradition."

Tough start

The four starters the Pirates faced in the first four games -- Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Vance Worley and Clayton Kershaw -- had a combined 68-12 record in 2011 and four Cy Young awards between them.


First Published April 11, 2012 12:00 AM


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