Pirates Notebook: Morton cool with debut No. 2


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DENVER -- It might seem as if Charlie Morton has to make his Pirates debut all over again tonight.

He lasted only one inning June 10 in Atlanta, pitching a scoreless and all-around impressive inning before a tight left hamstring cost him the rest of that start and his next turn, too.

"Honestly, I'm not going to look at it like I have to do things all over again," he said. "If I do that, it's the kind of thinking that can get you into trouble. I'm just going out there and pitching, pitch by pitch, and working to get guys out."

The "trouble" to which Morton referred might have played a role, he allowed, in his disappointing 15 starts with the Atlanta Braves last season, in which he went 4-8 with a 6.15 ERA.

"I'm still not sure what happened there, why I wasn't throwing strikes like I always had, why I wasn't being as aggressive," he said. "I know it's not a problem anymore, though. Everything I do now is all about going right after guys with my four-seam fastball."

That is not his only weapon: He also has a curveball good enough to be an out pitch, a slider and a crazy-hard changeup.

The latter was part of what made that one-inning debut impressive.

"He threw some pitches that looked to us like changeups, and we'd look on the board and see 91-94," Pirates manager John Russell recalled. "He's got the ability. I wouldn't have wanted to be hitting against him that night."

Top pick debuts tonight

Tony Sanchez, the Pirates' first-round draft pick, will begin his professional career earlier than expected, making his debut tonight for short-season Class A State College at Williamsport, Pa.

He will play for the Spikes until Wednesday, take a break to attend the Johnny Bench Award ceremony in Wichita, Kan. -- he is a finalist for the NCAA's top catcher -- then take his original assignment with Class A West Virginia June 27.

Buried treasure

• The Pirates signed ninth-round draft pick Brook Holt, a second baseman from Rice University. Holt batted .348 with 12 home runs and 43 RBIs in 59 games. He is the eighth to sign.

Jack Wilson played his 1,100th game at shortstop last night. Since Wilson made it to the majors in 2001, the only other player with more games at the position in the National League is the Philadelphia Phillies' Jimmy Rollins.

• Closer Matt Capps was used in the eighth inning, with the Pirates behind by five, simply because he had not pitched since last Sunday. He allowed a run and a hit.



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