Pirates notebook: Cole takes over for ailing Morton

PIRATES NOTEBOOK



WASHINGTON -- According to manager Clint Hurdle, Charlie Morton has felt pain in his right hip for months. On Sunday, the Pirates took action, disabling the right-hander after the hip pain influenced Morton's production and simultaneously creating an opening in the rotation for Gerrit Cole.

The Pirates put Morton on the 15-day disabled list because of what they called inflammation in the right hip. The move opened a spot for Cole, himself on the DL because of pain and tightness in the right latissimus dorsi muscle in his back but ready to return. Cole will start Wednesday in Morton's place.

"It's been manageable up until lately," Hurdle said of Morton's hip. "Now it's started to affect his performance."

Morton was no longer with the team Sunday. He had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left hip in October 2011.

In June, Morton had a 3.66 ERA and only nine walks in 32 innings. The ERA climbed slightly in July, when he had a 3.89 mark for the month.

In three starts in August, Morton, 30, had a 6.60 ERA and eight walks in 15 innings. He allowed five runs in each of his past two outings, the most recent of which lasted only three innings.

"Being a guy with a right hip issue right now, I would think it could complicate things to some degree," said Hurdle, who has dealt with arthritis in his hip this season. "Your hips are so important in physical activity in this sport, any sport. From a pitcher's standpoint, whether it's holding your back side, your rotation at the top of your delivery, those type of things."

Asked after his Friday start if he was healthy, Morton said, "I'm good, other than the normal stuff."

"You have no idea how many times players play through pain," Hurdle said. "You never hear about it. I don't share it with [the media]. It's just the way it is. If nothing more complicated happens, it never gets out. And they don't want you to know."

By mid-August, most players have something wrong with them, but Hurdle wants his players to communicate with him when the problem affects their production.

"I think that's the point we got to in the conversations we had the last week," he said.

Morel returns

The Pirates called up third baseman Brent Morel Sunday to take Morton's spot on the roster. Morel adds depth to the infield, which has Neil Walker back on a sporadic basis, and was still without Jordy Mercer and his tight right forearm Sunday.

"We have all kinds of optimism that Walker's fully back, but I don't know that," Hurdle said. "We're still finding ways to defense for Pedro [Alvarez]. If you're looking to defense, if Walker would go down, you'd need an extra infielder if both those things would happen in the same day."

Barmes update

Clint Barmes went 2 for 3 while starting at shortstop in his second rehabilitation game with Class AA Altoona Saturday and is 4 for 6 in two games. Barmes is on the DL because of a strained left groin.

Bill Brink: bbrink@post-gazette.com and Twitter @BrinkPG.


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