LOS ANGELES -- The last time Charlie Morton had joined the Pirates for an Opening Day gala, he was just visiting. This time, he's staying.Morton had been in Pittsburgh for last Thursday's season opener, after which he'd returned to Florida to resume extended spring training. Morton again rubbed elbows with Pittsburgh teammates lined up along the baseline following his introduction prior to Tuesday afternoon's Dodger Stadium opener. He trotted out of the Pirates' dugout a few hours after completing the convincing rehab start that should return him to the rotation this weekend. The right-hander delivered 98 pitches in Monday night's start for Class A Indianapolis in Columbus, striking out eight while allowing six hits and a run in 7 2/3 innings. The Pirates are weighing the roster move that would be needed to accommodate Morton, but manager Clint Hurdle acknowledged the likelihood he would be used in one of the starts against the Giants.
McGehee an important early-season player
LOS ANGELES -- Casey McGehee should be feeling like the bomb squad member who's called in when no one else can do the job. Cliff Lee and Clayton Kershaw? "Get me McGehee."And the Pirates third baseman is loving the opportunity to start against the National League's top left-handed pitchers, as well as making the most of it. In the early going, McGehee has looked less like the guy who struggled to a .233 average last season with the Brewers, and a lot more like the feared hitter who led Milwaukee in RBIs in 2010. Not coincidentally, McGehee has also been thinking like his '10 model. "I've made it a point to just go with it, react to pitches and drive them the best I can," McGehee said. "Last year, I got into a trap of overthinking everything. Just trying a more relaxed approach." Manager Clint Hurdle, who has noticed, said that "McGehee is going to be an interesting player for us," which could become one of 2012's top understatements. Early Tuesday, McGehee gave indication he was pumped for his at-bats against Kershaw. He blasted numerous batting practice pitches into the seats -- including one majestic drive that nearly cleared the roof of Dodger Stadium's left-field pavilion into the parking lot.
Pirates soak in Dodgers' historic home opener
LOS ANGELES -- Two down, one to go for the Pirates, in Opening Day-speak. San Francisco remains in the Bucs' Opening Day trifecta, but it is doubtful AT&T Park can cook up anything to rival what the Dodgers staged Tuesday afternoon.From listening enraptured as the Beach Boys delivered their signature "Surfer Girl," to watching dozens of white birds circle above the field and through the smoke of fireworks, the Bucs took in favors of the party they hoped to crash. The production was appropriate. Not only were the Dodgers observing Opening Day '12, they also began a yearlong celebration of Dodger Stadium's 50th anniversary. The Pirates played a significant role in the iconic ballpark's maiden 1962 season. The Dodgers opened their second homestand in their new house on April 27 against the Pirates. After Los Angeles took the first two behind Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax, the Bucs came back to take the final two games of that four-game series for a split.
The Pirates will head to San Francisco later this week for the Giants' home opener, their third and final Opening Day.
Vin Scully's voice could still be heard at Dodger Stadium, delivering the taped welcome to fans approaching the gates. But the broadcast legend, silenced by a cold, missed his first Opening Day since 1977 under doctor's orders. Back in '77, Scully was off covering the Masters golf tournament for CBS. Jaime Jarrin, the Dodgers' other Hall of Fame broadcaster, was behind his microphone as usual, starting his 55th season with the club. As the Pirates were introduced prior to the game and lined up along the first-base foul line, the players didn't draw any reaction from fans, spared the usual booing accorded visitors. However, when Rod Barajas' turn came, he received loud cheers for his contributions as the Dodgers' catcher the prior two seasons.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.