Hamstring surgery will end Morton's season

Phillies right-hander to undergo procedure Monday; recovery is 6-8 months

April 27th, 2016

WASHINGTON -- Phillies right-hander Charlie Morton's season is finished.

The Phillies announced Wednesday that he will have surgery on his torn left hamstring Monday in Philadelphia. Morton, 32, will need six-to-eight months to recover, which means he will miss the remainder of the year.

"I feel bad for him and for us because he was starting to throw really well," manager Pete Mackanin said before Wednesday's game against the Nationals at Nationals Park. "It's a shame."

Triple-A Lehigh Valley left-hander Adam Morgan will take Morton's spot in the Phillies' rotation on Friday against the Indians at Citizens Bank Park, although the team has made no official announcement. Morton's season-ending injury leaves the Phillies without one of the two veterans they acquired in the offseason to stabilize the rotation, making everybody in the rotation 29 years old or younger.

But the Phillies think they have enough arms to cover themselves the rest of the season. They know they will need more starters. They already are monitoring Vince Velasquez's workload.

"One of the big goals of the offseason was building more pitching depth in the organization beyond the five guys we had here," assistant general manager Ned Rice said. "We have guys with Major League experience in Lehigh and Reading. We have prospects who are younger, working their way up and doing well, so I think we feel good about being able to get through the year. We have a lot of guys who could be pretty exciting. We just feel bad for Charlie."

Morton's injury leaves Jeremy Hellickson (29), Aaron Nola (23), Jerad Eickhoff (25), Velasquez (24) and Morgan (26) in the rotation. The Phillies have not had a 29-or-under rotation since 2004, when they had Eric Milton (28), Brett Myers (23), Kevin Millwood (29), Randy Wolf (27) and Vicente Padilla (26).

"I think we're covered," Mackanin said.

"As the season goes along, you'll see more guys who are maybe beginning their Triple-A careers now. They'll be 70, 80, 100 innings in and you'll feel better about them," Rice said. "We even have a couple of guys in Double-A with Major League experience in [Alec] Asher and Severino Gonzalez. I don't think we're starved for experience. We feel OK depth wise."

Morton injured himself Saturday running to first base on a sacrifice bunt attempt. The Phillies placed him on the 15-day disabled list Sunday, and he received a MRI exam on Monday in Philadelphia. Mackanin said on Tuesday the MRI results were worse than anticipated.

The injury is a blow for a few reasons. First, Morton pitched relatively well. He went 1-1 with a 4.15 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 17 1/3 innings in four starts. Second, they hoped he would eat up plenty of innings, allowing the team's pitching prospects more developmental time in the Minor Leagues. Third, Morton would have been a trade chip before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. That will not happen now, and it seems likely Morton will be elsewhere next season.

The Phillies and Morton have a $9.5 million mutual option for 2017, which includes a $1 million buyout. Morton forfeits the buyout if he declines his half of the option.

Phillies physician Steven Cohen will perform the surgery.