Morton hopes to rebound in 2011
With the new year looming and spring training less than 10 weeks away, the Pirates look to have four starters locked for 2011.
Paul Maholm, Ross Ohlendorf, Kevin Correia and James McDonald seem to be the favored starters for the Bucs, although nothing has been officially announced.
That leaves one spot left, with plenty of arms to compete in spring training.
Charlie Morton hopes to rebound from a horrible 2010 season.
“When you know you can do well and you prepare to do well and you go out and struggle like I did, that makes it pretty hard,” Morton said. “I was really excited coming into this year and it just didn’t get me anywhere. It was tough.”
Morton was acquired by the Atlanta Braves in June of 2009 and had high expectations by the Pirates. He finished 5-9 with a 4.55 ERA.
A horrible first part of the 2010 season, Morton picked up nine losses and had an ERA of 9.35. By May 28th, he was put on the Disabled list for right shoulder fatigue and by July 2nd, he was sent to the minors.
“I think I let the results dictate how I felt on the mound, and that, in turn, led me to be in a place that when I was on the mound and things weren’t going right, it all kind of compounded,” Morton said. “It got harder and harder. And I’m not talking harder outing-to-outing. I’m talking harder pitch-to-pitch. You’re looking in and not believing. I definitely have to rethink and reanalyze what I was trying to do out there. At the end, I’d be looking at video of myself and you could see in my face the doubt.”
A lack of confidence was a major contributor of his disastrous starts and he began to doubt his future as a pitcher.
“I had a lot of questions about myself when I was in Triple-A and not pitching well,” Morton said. “I had a lot of doubts. When I started pitching better, I started feeling better about baseball, but I didn’t feel better about my career. I’m at the stage in my career where it’s, ‘Can you pitch in the big leagues? Or can you not pitch in the big leagues?’”
In the final two months with the Pirates (five starts) he finished with a 3.99 ERA, his record 2-12 with a 7.57 ERA.
Morton has spent the offseason pitching in Winter Ball where he allowed three runs through 15 innings, striking out 14 and walking two.
“We’re moving in the right direction, and winter ball is just going to help build on that,” general manager Neal Huntington said. “He’s made some mechanical adjustments. He’s believing more. He’s being more aggressive. He’s trusting the stuff more. He’s taken some nice steps forward.”
With just one option remaining, Morton has a lot to prove in Spring Training if he wants to be the fifth starter in 2011. The Pirates, however, haven’t given up on him just yet.
“I’ve learned that you can’t think about things long-term,” Morton said. “You can have goals and long-term dreams, but just looking at my next start and going out there and trying to execute pitches is the most important thing.
“Do I want the guys in this clubhouse and coaches’ locker room to count on me? Yeah, I want that responsibility. But when I start moving forward that can’t be the only thing on my mind. It has to be me taking care of what I need to take care of. Whether that leads me to a certain position on the staff or wherever, I can’t really focus on that.”