Q. Hey, Charlie. If you think back to last year, a year ago, the first week of October, where were you in your rehab, both physically where were you, what were you doing and what was your mentality like at that point?
CHARLIE MORTON: I think I just started to pick up a ball and throw. I don't remember exactly when I started throwing, but it couldn't have been much earlier or later than early October.
I mean, my goal was to get ready as soon as possible. I knew it wasn't realistic to expect to be able to be ready to come back at the beginning of the year. But I did start throwing in games in late April, and extended spring. I mean, I think that was pretty much where I was hoping to be nine plus months, post op. So I think I was in a good spot. In October that was what my goal was, get back and start throwing in games as soon as possible.
Q. Charlie, what's the status of your foot injury and how is that now?
CHARLIE MORTON: It's fine. During that game I broke the cover home plate on a wild pitch. I felt a pop in my foot. We checked it out. It was associated with the planta fascia. They cleared me. They said it wasn't going to get any worse. It was the kind of thing where they just treated it. It's a non issue now.
CHARLIE MORTON: Yes. Feel good.
Q. Thanks for coming. Question about a teammate, if you don't mind. The Dodgers talk a lot about how Puig getting called up changed their clubhouse, brought new energy. I'm wondering with you guys and Cole, the team itself and the pitching staff. Did that change much when he got called up? How is the dynamic?
CHARLIE MORTON: In terms of the chemistry or dynamic within the clubhouse, I would say he fits in. It wasn't an alteration in the clubhouse. Obviously you can see the impact he's had on the field. Obviously, that would affect attitude and chemistry in the clubhouse from an on field perspective.
So when you have someone that steps up as he has, especially in such crucial situations, yeah, I think it just adds to the effectiveness of the team, the confidence of the team, the confidence that everybody has in each other. He's just another guy that has stepped up and contributed.
So I would say that the guys have just done a tremendous job of maintaining a certain perspective on the game, in each game, each individual game.
Q. Is he quiet or rah rah?
CHARLIE MORTON: He's not quiet. But he's not loud or obnoxious. He gets his work done. He's trying to learn at the same time. He's trying to learn a lot at the same time contribute a lot, which I think is really unique in such a young player. He's gone out I can't think of anybody that's been more consistent than he has, which is really extraordinary in such a young pitcher.
Q. Charlie, the sinker ball has been the dominant pitch for you, but the curveball and some of your other pitches have are really come along. Would you talk about that development and what it's meant to your pitching style?
CHARLIE MORTON: The past few seasons I've been primarily a sinker ball pitcher. I don't know if I throw it 70 or 75% of the time. I usually get about 70% groundballs on the one pitch alone. So I'm a sinker ball pitcher.
I think my curveball has come a long way during the offseason and during the rehab process. I'm working with Jim Benedict in Bradenton, Florida. We are trying to clean up my mechanics and arm action. That's allowed me to be more consistent with my arm slot and my action and with all my pitches. I wasn't throwing I was throwing a circle change up earlier in the year. I cut out my cutter.
It was pretty much all about the rehab and getting the most out of the rehab as possible. That was simplification, being more efficient with what I was doing physically. So I think that's just allowed me to be a little more consistent, give me a better foundation and trying to encompass all these different pitches in my arsenal. It's really been about a sinker four seamer curveball and throw a split change or hybrid, whatever, change up anywhere between three to ten times a game. So it's kind of a non factor.
Q. Charlie, the last 11 starts or so, the numbers looked really good with the exception of when you flip flopped in that. Did your elbow get healthier as the season went or was it a case of you just simplifying? And to follow up what you just said, do you re add the cutter next season on those other pitches or do you feel maybe by cutting down you're a better pitcher?
CHARLIE MORTON: Early on coming back, you feel a lot of weird things in your elbow, and some of it is scary, because it's you associate the different sensations with the deterioration of your elbow, of the compromised ligament. I'm sure everybody that's experienced a rehab from an injury will tell you the same thing. Any time you feel anything.
But I had tremendous confidence in the medical staff and I had tremendous confidence in Dr. Andrew's ability to do what he does. It was really about putting in the work and trusting the process.
I'm not sure if my arm is necessarily stronger. It's starting to go back to I feel like I'm headed towards normalcy again where my arm feels normal.
In the future I would like to be able to have a pitch or develop something where I could be more effective against lefties, because I am a one pitch pitcher in the sense that that's how I attack people. That's how I attack the zone. That's how I attack hitters is with my sinker. And unfortunately I don't have I haven't had too much success against lefties with it.
So there's two ways of looking at it. Either it's the pitch or it's the location or a combination of both. But in the future, I would like to maybe have a harder breaking ball, something that bears in bores in on the hands of lefties.
Q. Charlie, either way tomorrow the crowd is probably going to be nuts again. And I know you guys often talk about trying not to do too much. How can that affect if a crowd is behind you and getting you all amped up, how can it affect you to not do too much?
CHARLIE MORTON: Sure. There's a way that we can that we make the noise a non factor. I think a lot of athletes will tell you that. But at the same time, there's a sense about the energy. There's no way to ignore the energy and that sound when you're on the field. And when it's your home crowd and they're pulling for you, it's even more exciting. It drives you to try to do more.
And the crowd here during that Wild Card game was just unbelievable. I know the guys were feeding off it. That's a tremendous advantage, especially with the fans here in Pittsburgh behind us.
Q. Charlie, pitching 101 questions. The cutter as a pitch in general, do you feel like that's a pitch that contributes to elbow injuries? And if it's a pitch that if you do agree with that, if it's a pitch that helps you in the short run but will have long term negative impacts, how does a pitcher a competitor deal with that balance?
CHARLIE MORTON: Sure. There's a lot of guys in the Major Leagues that have pitched for a long time incorporating a cutter. But at the same time that doesn't mean that it's the best thing for the next guy. I think it's an it would be based on an individual cases.
You see Mariano Rivera having thrown a cutter his whole career. I don't think there's a better example of a cutter. And he's had a tremendous and a long career. And there are also guys like me who when I throw the ball, I pronate. That's how I make the ball sink. So if I'm trying to do the total opposite of that, I'm using my arm differently. And it wouldn't surprise me, it wouldn't surprise me at all if that had something to do with getting hurt just because it's such a different way of throwing a pitch.
You try to throw it as hard as you can, as a cut fastball. It's not a slider, it's not a breaking ball. It's a fastball. So you throw it, and you try to be aggressive with it. So yeah, really, I don't know. Is it worth it? I don't know. If someone said, hey, you're going to get hurt, you're going to have a couple more years and you're going to pitch really well and get hurt again, I probably wouldn't throw it.
I think my stuff is good enough right now with what I'm throwing right now to be effective, and that just means I need to be a better pitcher.
Q. Charlie, you talked about liking to have a weapon that can combat left handed hitting. You've had the split change, I think, at times this year. Do you have that pitch right now? Do you feel comfortable with it? Is that a weapon we might see tomorrow?
CHARLIE MORTON: It's definitely for me it's a feel pitch. I think for some guys it's a power pitch where they throw it and they throw it upper 80s. It's hard and it's late. For me it's been a feel pitch, because I'm not too familiar with that. I started throwing it in 2011, and then during the rehab process I didn't throw it at all.
But I think I have more confidence throwing it and being aggressive with it in the zone than I do throwing a circle change up just because I think I've had more success with it when the ball is put in play or it's in the zone. So I'll continue to throw the split change just because I think my circle change up is a non factor.
Q. Charlie, your efforts have been against St. Louis, one because of a fiscal issue. Did you take anything away from those games that you can make adjustments and get the upper hand on it?
CHARLIE MORTON: Anybody would like to believe that from failure you take something from it. And I think that's true with anybody, whether it's a season or it's a span of starts or it's one start. So there are things that I'm going to take from it and I'm going to learn from, but I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel, because I had a couple of bad games against them. Because I just don't think I don't think that we have the ability to say, you know, this is why you didn't have success, based on two games. Because I can look back at games I pitched well and say I did the same thing against them. It just didn't work out or it did work out.
So I have to be really careful about being too critical about certain things, because I think you lose the ability to be objective. And once you go back and look at it again, you can look and say, well, obviously he's going to hit that ball. It's right down the middle. Or obviously he's sitting heater right there, because I'm 2 0 and I'm working behind these guys.
I think a lot of it is just it's simple. And I think we have to I have to do a better job of being objective about my criticisms.
Q. Charlie, how do you ensure that tomorrow's approach doesn't change based on today's result?
CHARLIE MORTON: Sure. Today's result doesn't dilute the importance of the game tomorrow. It just doesn't. That's the reality of it. Tomorrow's game is important. So there's really I don't think there's really any other way to look at it, put undue emphasis on a game because of a certain circumstance or the meaning behind the game. I think that allows you to be inconsistent. If you look at the game you're going to throw as an important game, it's an important game. I'm not going to go out there and say a game in mid June doesn't mean anything to me or doesn't mean as much. A lot rides on every game we play in. Our careers depend on it. We need to be consistent. Besides that, yeah, tomorrow's game is going to be important regardless.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks a lot, Charlie.
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