Let's be straight about this: Charlie Morton is probably my favorite Pirate. The guy came through the minors with all of the talent in the world, but couldn't get it right in the big leagues. He completely scrapped his approach and rebuilt himself from the ground up, turning in one of the more pleasantly surprising Pirate performances in recent memory in 2011. It seemed like if he figured out a way to compromise between Strikeout Charlie Morton and Groundout Charlie Morton that he might find even more big league success, and then he blew his elbow out. How can you not root for this guy?
I have no idea what to expect from Morton; his rehab starts have been up and down, but reports say that his velocity is quite good. I'm still hoping that this turns out to be one of those cases where a slowly decaying elbow affected a guy for a long time without anyone's knowledge, then he comes back from his Tommy John surgery stronger than ever. That's an insanely optimistic thing to hope for, I know, but, well, here we are.
There is some bad news, too. To make room for Morton on the 40-man roster, AJ Burnett is going on the 15-day disabled list with a calf problem. The Pirates now have a four-man rotation an no starter for Saturday, unless you count Andy Oliver/James McDonald/maybe Brandon Cumpton (which … I wouldn't). Also, Starling Marte has been scratched from the lineup tonight with a rib problem. Jose Contreras has been released, but that's not really at all important.
Anyway, Charlie Morton is back! And the Pirates need him. Oh boy. First pitch is at 7:05.