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Morton makes progress toward rejoining rotation

Right-hander feels good about sim game; club deciding on destination for rehab assignment

ST. LOUIS -- Charlie Morton moved a step closer Saturday to rejoining the Pirates rotation with an extended outing in Pirate City.

Pitching a sim game at the club's training complex, Morton made 93 pitches in a six-inning workout he and Jim Benedict both were satisfied with.

Morton is recovering from the Sept. 25 labrum surgery that curtailed his 2014 season.

Benedict, the pitching specialist on general manager Neal Huntington's staff, monitored the outing and "felt good about it," manager Clint Hurdle relayed.

"Charlie threw all his pitches, and thought it went well," Hurdle said.

Morton is on his way back from Bradenton, Fla., to Pittsburgh, where he is scheduled to throw a side session on Tuesday under the watchful eyes of pitching coach Ray Searage.

"Then we'll decide where to send him to pitch under the lights," said Hurdle, referencing a rehab assignment.

Morton's rehab destination poses an interesting dilemma. The logical place appears to be Double-A Altoona, since the Curve will be in the midst of a two-week homestand interrupted only by a weekend side trip to Harrisburg. But the Bucs may be reluctant to inject Morton into the Altoona rotation and interrupt the amazing run by its starting pitchers. Through Saturday's game, the Curve rotation has a collective ERA of 1.14 in 20 games.

Tom Singer is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer.
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