Morton will start Saturday


BRADENTON, Fla. — Right-hander Charlie Morton will start the Grapefuit League opener Saturday against the Rays in Port Charlotte. He”ll likely pitch only an inning or two.

The Pirates play three straight games against the Rays. Sunday, Kevin Correia will start at McKechnie Field. James Shields will start for Tampa Bay and ex-Pirates Jonah Bayliss and Chris Bootcheck also are scheduled to pitch.

Monday, Bryan Morris will start against the Rays in a split-squad game in Port Charlotte. The Pirates also play at home Monday against the Orioles; the starters for that game are not yet available.

It’s too early to read into how the spring training rotation will affect the order of the regular-season rotation. But management clearly wants to get as many looks as it can at Morton, who endured what he called “a nightmare” in 2010, before deciding who’ll get the No. 5 starter’s job.

»»» Reliever Jose Ascanio’s elbow tightened after he threw his first bullpen and has been shut down. He’s day to day. “It’s minor,” Ascanio told me this morning.