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Morton throws in bullpen, may make Sunday start

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates have not yet announced an official starter for Sunday's game against the Brewers, as they wait to see how Charlie Morton responds to a bullpen session.

Morton had the session Thursday afternoon, and it is probable that he would start again Sunday as long as he felt OK throwing off the mound. The right-handed sinkerballer made his first start in a month on Tuesday, throwing five scoreless innings against the Red Sox. Morton, who has been bothered by a sports hernia in his right hip, said prior to throwing in the bullpen he felt the same as he did going into the start.

"We want to get him on a slope," manager Clint Hurdle said. "Flat ground was good, but that was flat ground. He'll have to pitch off a mound Sunday, so we'll see how the working parts go with that."

Following Thursday's 3-2 win over the Red Sox, manager Clint Hurdle still did not say for sure if the right-hander would start Sunday against the Brewers.

If Morton cannot go Sunday, the Pirates will likely turn to Vance Worley. The Bucs skipped over Worley to get Morton back in the rotation, and Hurdle said the right-hander is staying ready for a spot start.

Worth noting
• Shortstop Jordy Mercer returned to the Pirates' lineup Thursday after missing two games with back tightness. Mercer said he felt fine going through swings in the batting cage Thursday afternoon, which is where he first noticed the issue Tuesday. Clint Barmes filled in admirably over the last two days, going 4-for-7.

First number, last word
2: The number of wins the Pirates need at home to match their total from last season. They have four games left at PNC Park, counting Thursday's series finale with Boston.

"You can be coach from time to time, you can be couch from time to time. And some of the best sessions that they've shared with me this year is it's not always the work that's done in there, but the communication and the video analysis and formulated a gameplan based on strengths." -- Hurdle on Pirates hitting coaches Jeff Branston and Jeff Livesey

Stephen Pianovich is an associate reporter for
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