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Pirates starter Charlie Morton to begin year on disabled list

St Louis Cardinals v Pittsburgh Pirates

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 14: Charlie Morton #50 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals during the game on September 14, 2011 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Justin K. Aller

Last month Charlie Morton was said to be “ahead of schedule” in his recovery from October hip surgery, but the Pirates right-hander will begin the season on the disabled list.

However, it’s not necessarily a setback, as the Pirates won’t need a fifth starter until April 14 and for now at least the plan is for Morton to come off the DL and pitch that game.

Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review reports that in the meantime Morton will pitch a simulated game next week and then start a Triple-A game on April 9.

Morton was a pleasant surprise for the Pirates last season, throwing 172 innings with a 3.83 ERA thanks to allowing just six homers in 769 plate appearances. He had the third-highest ground-ball rate in baseball behind Jake Westbrook and Derek Lowe.