Right-Hander Charlie Morton Hitting His Stride

Article excerpt

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Opposing hitters had to give some props Sunday to Pirates right-hander Charlie Morton.

In a 3-1 victory, Morton blanked the Houston Astros for six innings, allowing four hits and striking out five.

"I got some good feedback from some of the guys in their clubhouse," Morton said. "When the hitters are saying, 'You're doing a good job getting me out,' that's good. Let's stick with that."

Morton, who lowered his ERA to 1.29, has pitched well from the start of camp. In 14 innings, he has allowed nine hits and one walk and struck out eight.

Pitchers who struggle in spring training often say they're not concerned because results aren't important this time of year. So should Morton put the brakes on his enthusiasm?

"I was thinking about that on the (two-hour) bus ride to the field today," Morton said. "What you do is try to maintain what's working into the season. You don't try to do more as soon as the season starts. You don't hit the panic button, either."

Morton paused.

"I remember the first game last year, I approached it like it was something totally different than what I'd been doing in spring training. …