ATLANTA — Ronny Cedeno was scratched from the starting lineup due to tightness in his lower back. I chatted briefly with Ronny this afternoon before he went to the indoor batting cage and he seemed fine; the problem must’ve flared up after that. Bobby Crosby will start at shortstop tonight against the Braves.
Some updated info on Charlie Morton:
– Everyone, of course, wants to know who’ll start Tuesday against the Cubs. “We have time to think through it,” manager John Russell said. The easiest option probably would be to give Jeff Karstens a spot start and piece things together from there.
The more popular option would be to call up Brad Lincoln from Triple-A Indy. The buzz that he’s ready for the majors has gotten louder the past week or so and his arrival certainly would put a few more butts in the seats at PNC Park.
But here’s something to consider: whomever starts Tuesday also would line up to pitch June 8 against the Nationals. That day has been mentioned as the likely debut of wonderboy Stephen Strasburg. Would Pirates management want to stick a rookie pitcher like Lincoln into what is sure to be a circus atmosphere in Washington? Maybe, maybe not.
– Morton is with the team here in Atlanta, but was not available this afternoon to speak with the media. Saturday, he will fly to Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla., to begin his rehab.
“He’s going to Florida to rehab, but also to get out of this environment and regroup,” Russell said. “With the physical and mental drain of trying to piece it together, it will be good for him to get away from this atmosphere while he’s rehabbing. He can relax and get a fresher outlook on things.”
– Russell said Morton “absolutely will have to make a rehab start or two” in the minors before coming off the DL.
– My good friend John Perrotto, who calls the shots at Baseball Prospectus (a site, by the way, which definitely is worth the click once you’re finished reading this blog) passed along some stats about Morton’s outing Thursday against Cincinnati:
Morton threw 68 pitches, 41 of them for strikes. Not awful — until you break it down a little more. Of his 41 strikes, only 26 were actually in the strike zone. That means the Reds swung and missed at 15 pitches outside the zone.
Once they knew Morton was on the ropes, the Reds actually made his job a bit easier by hacking at everything. And even though the Reds got dumber at the plate the longer Morton pitched (which wasn’t long), he still got ripped for seven runs.
Overall, he found the zone with only 38 percent of his pitches. Morton threw 34 fastballs, 25 for strikes. His curveball was ineffective — 19 curves, nine for strikes.