Pirates starting pitcher Charlie Morton threw 73 pitches in four innings of a rehab start Thursday for the Class AA Altoona Curve, but that doesn’t mean he necessarily is close to returning to the majors soon.
Manager Clint Hurdle said Morton, who allowed four hits and two earned runs, struck out six batters and walked one, threw the ball reasonably well but also experienced some discomfort.
Morton went on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 17 (retroactive to Aug. 16) with right hip inflammation and gradually has worked his way back to throwing from the mound.
“Charlie made his rehab start last night and got to the pitch count we were looking for [73 pitches] and four complete innings,“ Hurdle said. ”Overall, he felt like he was able to execute pitches, I liked the number of strikes he was able to throw, and he was able to work out of the wind up and the stretch.
“He didn’t feel significantly better than the last time he threw the ball, so we are going to get his feedback and decide what steps are next.”
Morton is eligible to come off the disabled list next week but Hurdle said there is no timetable for his return to the active roster.
Power hitting outfielder-first baseman Andrew Lambo is back with the Pirates after being recalled early Friday from Class AAA Indianapolis.
The move came three days before the rosters expand and was necessitated by injuries to first baseman Pedro Alvarez (left foot sprain) and outfielder Travis Snider (hamstring discomfort).
Alvarez and Snider worked out Friday afternoon, but neither had progressed enough to be available Friday night against the Cincinnati Reds.
Lambo was hitting .328 (78 for 238) with 19 doubles, 2 triples, 11 home runs and 42 RBIs in 61 games with Indianapolis.
In his past 21 games, Lambo was hitting .310 (27 for 87) and in his past eight games he had six home runs.
The Pirates made room for Lambo on the 25-man roster by optioning pitcher Gerrit Cole to Bristol, though the move is mostly a paper procedure because Cole remained in Pittsburgh.
Cole has options left and is not scheduled to pitch again until Monday, which is after the rosters expand for September.
Polanco’s timing off
Hurdle said outfielder Gregory Polanco is working on the timing of his swing while playing for Class AAA Indianapolis. Polanco is trying to get back on track before he returns to the Pirates next week.
”We are not going to mess with his stroke, this is about timing and trying to find a way to help him get the foot down on time, see the ball and get a good aggressive swing off,” Hurdle said.
Tabata bats second
Hurdle was asked why Jose Tabata was batting second Friday, and he said it was a combination of the way Tabata matched up with Reds starter Mike Leake and the fact that he likes how others have settled into their spots.
”Sometimes, it is easier to move one guy into one spot and not having to move five others,“ Hurdle said. ”Tabata has some history with [Leake], he has found his way on base, and we are always looking to have guys getting on base ahead of our three and four hitters.
“And then there is also something to be said for, ‘If I move him, what other guys am I going to have to move, who matches up good in that spot …’ ”
A parking mess
The Pirates play the Reds at 4:05 p.m. today at PNC Park and Pitt plays its home opener at Heinz Field against Delaware at noon. The combination will cause some traffic/parking issues because the two venues share the same parking lots.
The Pirates announced Friday that in order to alleviate some of the congestion, fans are encouraged to park downtown or use public transportation to get to the game and arrive before 3 p.m.
Also, all parking in lots and garages on the North Shore will be closed to “cash” parkers for the Pirates game. Fans who do not have a pre-sold hang tag for the Aug. 30 Pirates game will not be permitted to enter the North Shore lots or garages. Beginning at 2 p.m., police will permit entry to the North Shore only to fans displaying pre-sold parking passes.
Hurdle on Harrison
Josh Harrison was named the winner for the 2014 Heart & Hustle Award Tuesday for the Pirates. The award is presented by the MLB Players Alumni Association to the player on each of the 30 clubs who “demonstrates a passion for the game of baseball and best embodies the values, spirit and tradition of the game.”
“Everybody in the clubhouse thinks the world of Josh,” Hurdle said. “Everybody loves a good story. You talk about heart and you talk about hustle, he embodies both.”
Paul Zeise: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1720 and Twitter @paulzeise.