The Pittsburgh Pirates have been performing well above expectations so far in the 2013 season, even with more than their fair share of injuries to the starting rotation. Two of their injured starting pitchers made rehab starts on Monday as Charlie Morton started for Triple-A Indianapolis and James McDonald started for Double-A Altoona.
Morton pitched five innings, throwing just 88 pitches, 56 of them for strikes. In the five innings, Morton gave up five runs (four earned) on seven hits and three walks with three strikeouts. Hen is inching closer and closer to making his return to the Pirates after recovering from Tommy John Surgery.
Like most pitchers that come off of Tommy John Surgery, Morton is said to be throwing harder than he did pre-surgery, reaching as high as 97 mph on his fastball.
McDonald pitched horribly for Altoona. Well, that is an understatement — he pitched atrociously for Altoona. He only lasted 0.2 innings and gave up three runs on two hits and four walks. He threw 33 pitches on the day, with only 14 of them going for strikes. Much like his struggles in MLB with the big league club for the Pirates, command was his biggest issue.
In McDonald’s defense, however, according to Cory Giger of the Altoona Mirror, he had a blister on his right-middle finger. Pitching would be a very difficult task with a blister, so it seems like a legitimate excuse.
The good thing about the Pirates this season is that they may not even need Morton or McDonald because the starting rotation has performed so well to this point, and there is so much depth in the organization. I think Morton is pretty much guaranteed a spot in the rotation, but McDonald is going to have to work his tail off to get another chance with the big league club — and even then, I think it will be in the bullpen.