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Pirates Caffeine: Charlie Morton Still Mind Freaking Pirates Fans

Morton has had an impressive Spring Training for the Pittsburgh Pirates

Ronny Cedeno used some wind to stake the Bucs to an early two-run lead and Charlie Morton and the Pirates pitching staff did the rest.  The Pirates downed a split squad Houston Astros team 3-1 in Grapefruit action yesterday.

Ryan Doumit drove in the other run, and Steve Pearce added two more hits to continue his quest to make the Pirates decision to use his option a difficult one.

Steve Pearce has eleven hits in Grapefruit action with four doubles.

Benji Gonzalez might be on a bridge somewhere in Florida tonight after having four errors in the last few innings of the game.  The shortstop’s final error in the ninth inning led to Michael Crotta’s first blemish this Spring, an unearned run that was driven in by Carlos Corporan.

Charlie Morton fired six scoreless, gave up four singles and struckout five Astronauts.  Morton has been the most impressive pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates this Spring Training.  With only seven games remaining in the Grapefruit schedule, Morton has been the talk of camp. 

As we wrote early in Spring Training, maybe it really has been Ray Searage who has made the difference in Morton’s skull this year. We truly feel that if Morton didn’t get off to a solid start early in the Grapefruit campaign, we’d be writing a different story. The great start has been the difference and although we know Morton isn’t on firm footing just yet, this mind freak has got us dreaming big dreams.

A compilation from RumBunter after Charlie Morton’s first start of Spring Training, in Port Charlotte against the Rays

After stepping on the bullpen mound at Charlotte Sports Park, Morton didn't like something.

We have no idea what Charlie Morton said to Ray Searage in the bullpen before the Pittsburgh Pirates took on the Tampa Rays. Does it matter? [After we spoke to Morton a few days after we wrote this-he asked Searage for help with his alignment]  Listen to the video that Colin Dunlap took of Morton after the game. We are used to seeing and hearing Charlie Morton be interviewed.

In most of the post game interviews Morton seems to be lip biting analytical. In several of his interviews with Rocco DeMaro last season it was the same thing. One can only imagine what happened in his brain when he watched all that video. Really, video?

It appears to us that Ray Searage listens. We have watched Searage since he came to Pittsburgh, but much more closely over the past two days. Most of the time he is listening and observing. He certainly listened to Charlie Morton as he began to warm up in the bullpen before the game against the Rays yesterday. Watch how Searage reacts to Morton in our amateur pictures and video below.

Searage starts to make a line with his foot toward homeplate for Morton.

There it is.

It wasn't just the fans that were watching every pitch Morton threw...

Now what the hell was Searage doing? We got the feeling that maybe homeplate appeared a little bit out of line with the pitching rubber. Perhaps a silly game by the Rays or something trivial. But it doesn’t really matter. Searage heard what Morton said. Then he fixed the concern.

Maybe it’s that simple to figuring out Charlie Morton. Listen and act. Don’t tell. Require Morton to do one thing–pitch effectively.

Since Morton has been under the coaching of Searage he has pitched better. Yesterday he faced six good Tampa hitters. He had his good sinker, his electric stuff. He went inside on hitters, especially Evan Longoria.

Morton got two double play balls from the stretch. Remember Morton from the stretch last season?

Charlie Morton worked from the stretch in both innings he pitched against Tampa

Not too many people have been able to solve Morton. He’s had some harsh labels. But maybe that’s the problem, why try to figure him out? He has the stuff. He needs to figure it out, it can’t be done for him. And if Morton has questions, he needs someone to draw some lines for him, listen to him, hell, just answers his questions.

It’s not like Morton is a diva. He’s insanely likeable. Check it out….minutes before he ran to the mound at Charlotte Sports Park, Charlie listened to the Pirates fans we met up with at the game. We were on the Boardwalk above the bullpen and Keith and Flip wished Charlie good luck. He was about to step on that bullpen mound in a matter of thirty seconds. But it didn’t matter.

Charlie looked up, made direct eye contact and asked “how are you guys doing?” He didn’t just look away either, he waited for the guys to reply.

It was a bunch of little moments in a silly fake baseball Spring Training game. But let’s remember one big thing, the 2011 Pittsburgh Pirates season will be a long one. For it to resemble anything positive, it will certainly need Charlie Morton to be effective.

And yesterday, all two innings of it, got off to a damn good start for Charlie Morton.

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If you really dig Charlie and want to delve into the longest story in RumBunter history, here you go…it speaks volumes to Morton’s past success, failures in giving up long balls to no names, and the 12 for 15 strike success of his sinkerball two Septembers ago.

If you think we suck at writing now and we know you do, read this monster.  But this is true, if you read this and had an opportunity to watch Morton pitch this Spring, you agree that you can’t help, but think back to Morton’s limited past success.

Remember, this article on Morton’s 2009 season was written at this same time, but two years ago… long before Charlie shared the truth about Joe Kerrigan and the Sinkergate interview.

 

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We already made this bet when we were in Vegas, but we we told you that on Twitter.  Typically we don’t share secrets, but we are starting to like you more. 

The over on Pirates win was 67.5 at Caesar’s sports book a few weeks back.  We jumped on it.  Why not?  Now, it’s nice to see some backup from our boy.  This cat has made us cash since 2007.  (And you wondered how this site stayed afloat? It’s sure not from the annyoning ads and awful commenting system that has us puzzled Cf2, because we still can’t figure out how to leave a link…)

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So you seriously passed up the article on Morton? What’s wrong with you?

Here is a teaser from our archive because we know you didn’t think we were hot back then.  That hurts. Jerk.   

We have faith that you will now go back up and right click, open it in a new window and remind yourself just how much promise Morton had at this very time last season.  Big things were expected, now go find out why.  

In the final three games, Morton threw the fewest number of four seamers, 48, against the Cubs. Don’t forget this was a complete game, a four hitter in which Morton threw 119 pitches. We obviously thought Morton would have thrown more four seamers and curveballs because he was pitching longer into the game. Wrong. He mixed in a good sinker 15 times firing 12 of them for strikes. In his two prior starts against the Padres and Reds, Morton threw a total of five sinkers.

We are guessing that the four seamer was simply his best pitch. The damn thing moves more than a thirty foot John Daly putt. Now in 2010, he just needs to trust it.

2010 will be a big year for Charlie Morton. The tour begins in just over two weeks for Charlie Morton.

The first track suggestion for 2010? Fastballs, Fastballs, Fastballs….sung to the catchy Motley Crue tune of Girls, Girls, Girls (Charlie certainly knows a thing or two about girls.)

Rock on Charlie. Rock on.

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Topics: Charlie Morton, Pirates Blog, Pittsburgh Pirates, Pittsburgh Pirates Blog, Steve Pearce

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