Pirates Notebook: Morton focused on fastball
A fan supports the Pirates in the outfield bleachers as pitcher Paul Maholm warms up in the foreground Saturday.
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Do not expect to see Charlie Morton shaking his head much this afternoon. At least not when catcher Chris Snyder puts down one finger for fastball.
The Pirates, particularly pitching coach Ray Searage, have been working extensively with Morton since his start last Sunday, when he repeatedly shook off Ryan Doumit's calls for the fastball and gave up eight runs in 3 1/3 innings in Milwaukee. Searage oversaw a flat-ground session Tuesday in Chicago in which Morton was ordered to throw nothing but fastballs. Moreover, manager John Russell is expected to use Snyder rather than Doumit in a bid for better rhythm for the battery.
The message appears to have penetrated.
"I think it all stems from being aggressive and having a fastball mentality," Morton said Saturday. "It's easy to get away from that sometimes because throwing a curveball, trying to get swings and misses, it's enticing. When you're throwing a certain pitch that's getting hit hard ... you get away from your game plan. But the reality is that you get ahead with your fastball, you can still put people away, and I think mine's good enough to get outs."
Morton can throw up to 95-96 mph, though he mostly was at 93 mph in Milwaukee.
"Just be aggressive," Russell said of his hope for Morton today. "I know he's worked hard, and it would be nice to see results from that."
First baseman Jeff Clement is done for the year after tests showed he has a pulled oblique. That was added to a damaged meniscus in his left knee that had him on the 15-day disabled list.
Clement, who opened the season as the everyday first baseman and batted .201 with seven home runs and 12 RBIs, will be out of options for 2011, so his future with the Pirates is uncertain.
"You never say never," Russell said.
Ramon Aguero, a reliever at Altoona and member of the Pirates' 40-man roster, will have his sore right elbow examined by MRA on Tuesday, director of player development Kyle Stark said.
Aguero, 25, has had poor numbers -- 6.14 ERA, .308 opponents' average in 25 appearances -- but he was clocked at 94-95 mph in his most recent outing Thursday. This elbow issue is his second of the season.
• Washington center fielder Nyjer Morgan, whose history of being outgoing and friendly with fans in Pittsburgh predates his recent troubles, said he has been told not to interact at all with fans. "I love the people here," he said.
• Outfielder Brandon Moss was named Class AAA Indianapolis' player of the year after batting .264 with 22 home runs and 93 RBIs, the latter leading the International League. He would have to be added to the 40-man roster to be recalled.
• Kimera Bartee, the minor-league outfield and baserunning coordinator, has joined the major-league staff for the rest of the season.
First Published September 5, 2010 12:00 am