Back in mid-December, new Phillies general manager Matt Klentak completed one of his first trades, sending organizational pitcher David Whitehead
to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for veteran starting pitcher Charlie Morton
The move was made to add an eight-year veteran to a rotation that was going to be relying heavily on a handful of inexperienced starting pitchers, while another handful percolated at the top of the club’s minor league organization.
Morton had made 157 big league starts, most of those coming in seven seasons with the Pirates, who had acquired him back in June of 2009 from the Atlanta Braves club that had drafted him back in 2002.
So Morton was slotted into the rotation as a veteran innings-eater, someone who hopefully would provide the team with 15-20 starts leading up to the 2016 MLB trade deadline.
The club would then hopefully have a couple of those prospect arms ready, and could swap Morton out to a contender for a minor league piece
perhaps better than Whitehead had been for them.
“the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.“
When Tyler Goeddel
led off the top of the 2nd inning with a base hit, Morton came to the plate. He grounded back to opposing pitcher Chase Anderson
, who turned to gun down Goeddel at 2nd base, starting a potential double play.
Morton busted out of the batter’s box to try to get down as fast as possible, hoping that a bobble or errant throw or some other Brewers misfortune would in some way allow him to avoid the twin killing.
About halfway down the first base line, Morton took a strike, and his leg stiffened up awkwardly. He took one more step, and then crumpled to the ground in a heap. He was helped off the field, and initial medical tests revealed a hamstring problem.
“Apparently his MRI wasn’t as good as we were hoping,
” manager Pete Mackanin
said in the aftermath of the initial medical results coming back.
“We’re going to see what happens the next two or three days and see what the next step is. I really don’t know what the next step is. I just know it’s not as good as we were hoping. We won’t find out for a few days.”
Well, it turns out that hamstring is more than a small problem. It’s a torn left hamstring that will require surgery, six to eight months of recovery time, and will knock Morton out for the remainder of what was going to be the only season of his Phillies career.
In all, that Phillies career consisted of 17.1 innings over which he allowed 15 hits, with a 19/8 K:BB ratio. He had a 4.15 ERA, 1.327 WHIP, and 3.04 FIP over the course of those four starts in which he accumulated a 1-1 record.
The Phillies are expected to promote lefty Adam Morgan
from AAA Lehigh Valley to take Morton’s spot in the rotation. Morgan is likely to make his 2016 big league debut on Friday night when the club returns home to Citizens Bank Park for a weekend series against the Cleveland Indians.
Morton will undergo the surgery and then his rehabilitation. He is being paid $8 million for this lost season, and will receive a $1 million buyout from the Phillies come the off-season. He will then become a free agent, and some team is likely to offer him a contract to come to spring training with them for the 2017 season when he will be 33 years old.