Morton hits 96 mph, K's 3 in Braves debut

Veteran reunited with pitching coach Kranitz for 2021 run

March 7th, 2021

It was a great Spring Training debut for right-hander Charlie Morton during the Braves’ 5-4 victory over the Red Sox at CoolToday Park in Venice, Fla., on Sunday afternoon.

Morton pitched three shutout innings and struck out three batters. Even more impressive was that his fastball was clocked as high as 96 mph. Morton said that he was getting a feel for his pitches during the game and was able to get his pitch count up.

“I thought he was really good,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “When he had two strikes, he was making pitches and reached back a couple of times. … We knew what he threw. We watched him for a long time. He knows what he is doing, that’s the thing. He can execute pitches. He has a good arsenal. He didn’t have the success by accident. He is a pitcher.”

The Braves signed Morton to a one-year, $15 million deal last November and they are hoping that they are getting the same pitcher who help to guide the Astros and Rays to the World Series in 2017 and last year, respectively.

Morton, 37, is familiar with the Braves, who drafted him in the third round of the 2002 MLB Draft. After one Major League season with Atlanta, Morton was dealt to the Pirates in June 2009.

Morton is now reunited with pitching coach Rick Kranitz, whom he worked with when both were with the Phillies in 2016. Kranitz was the guy who told Morton -- who missed most of the '16 season because of a left hamstring injury -- to use his curveball more often.

Morton adapted Kranitz's advice and became a solid starter during his time with the Astros from 2017-18.

“Here we are. Krany and I get a chance to work together again. So I’m really excited about that,” Morton said.

According to Morton, his next start will probably be on the backfields, before returning to face a Major League team in his following appearance.

Worth noting

• The Braves have the day off Monday and Snitker said that the team will not do any work. Multiple Braves pitchers threw light batting practice throughout Sunday.

“We haven’t missed anything. The weather has been awesome. We even got our work in [during the rainout on Saturday],” Snitker said. “It would be good for the guys to have a day [off].”

• Left-hander Grant Dayton had a bout of the flu recently, but he is scheduled to pitch Tuesday, according to Snitker. Dayton also threw live batting practice Friday.