DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Right-hander Charlie Morton on Saturday moved a significant step closer to catching up with the rest of the Pirates' pitching staff with a 40-pitch round of batting practice at McKechnie Field.Morton is on a delayed schedule as he works his way back from hip surgery in October. "His stuff, his arm, the way the ball was coming out of his hand -- it all looked good. And he felt good, health-wise, which is the main thing we have to look at," said pitching coach Ray Searage, who stayed back to watch Morton throw before joining the rest of the club for Saturday's Grapefruit League opener against the Blue Jays. Barring any setbacks, Morton is scheduled to throw an inning in Wednesday's "B" game, rest a day, throw a bullpen, then rest two more days before making his first Grapefruit appearance.
According to that timeline, Morton would make his spring debut on March 12 in Bradenton against the Phillies.
Bucs trot out 'Mac attack' in first Grapefruit game
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Bucs had a representative McSample in Saturday's starting lineup against the Blue Jays, with starting pitcher James McDonald joining first baseman Casey McGehee, center fielder Nate McLouth and catcher Michael McKenry.Daniel McCutchen made it Mac-5 with a relief appearance, and with two others in -- Andrew McCutchen and Kyle McPherson -- the Pirates could break the 100-year old Major League regular-season record for most McPlayers on a team. Sure, such a record exists, confirmation courtesy of the SABR crew: Five turn-of-the-century teams -- the last century -- had five each, the most recent of them the 1912 Tigers (Red McDermott, Dan McGarvey, Jim McGarr, Deacon McGuire and Pat McGehee). One pro team had a half-dozen McPlayers on its roster, but for that, you have to go all the way back to the 1884 Washington Nationals (yes, that was their nickname) of the Union Association: Jerry McCormick, Ed McKenna, William McLaughlin, Frank McKee, Jim McDonald and McRemer (first name unknown).
The d'Arnaud Brothers reunion had to wait a day. The Pirates' Chase was not on the travel squad for Saturday's game in Dunedin -- but younger bro Travis, a catcher in the Blue Jays' camp, is due to bus with Toronto for Sunday's return exhibition in Bradenton. Pittsburgh infielder Jeremy Farrell got a bus pass out of Minor League camp, entered the game at third base in the fifth inning, and walked and struck out in his two plate appearances. His dad, John, is the second-year manager of the Blue Jays. Despite the outcome -- the hometeam Blue Jays were 7-1 winners -- the teams played a bottom of the ninth on Saturday to allow Juan Cruz to pitch his scheduled inning. That was a good idea, considering one of the pitchers with whom he is competing for a seat in the Bucs' bullpen -- Ryota Igarashi -- had worked an impressive eighth, getting one out on an infield grounder and the other two on strikes. Cruz retired three right-handed batters around a two-out double. Fans desperate for hard-to-get Opening Day tickets might sigh, "I'd give blood for a couple." Well, now you can: At the first of the year's five PNC Park Blood Drive events, from noon to 6 p.m. ET on Monday, participating donors will receive two tickets to a future game -- and be entered into a drawing for a pair of ducats to the April 5 opener vs. the Phillies. The event is in partnership with Central Blood Bank. Former Bucs pitcher Grant Jackson will join in for photo opportunities and free autographs Noon to 2 p.m. in the donor area, PNC Park's press conference room.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.