MILWAUKEE -- Brad Lincoln will start the Pirates' series opener on Tuesday in Cincinnati, stepping into the slot vacated by Charlie Morton when the veteran right-hander went on the disabled list.The Pirates placed Morton on the 15-day DL with inflammation in his right elbow on Friday, concluding that condition had contributed to Morton's inability to pitch with his usual command. Morton's roster spot went to Juan Cruz, as the reliever returned from a four-day stint on the restricted list to tend to a personal matter in his native Dominican. But Morton's role will go to Lincoln, who is 3-0 with a 1.07 ERA, and went six innings in a May 14 spot start, a win against Miami. Another possible starting option was Jeff Karstens, whose scheduled rehab start Thursday in Indianapolis would have enabled him to come off the DL and start Tuesday on regular four days' rest. But rain delayed the Triple-A game, and the staff decided to defer Karstens' outing with the Indians to Friday night. Tuesday night's four-inning start against Cincinnati, in which he allowed four runs and did not register a strikeout, dropped Morton's record in nine starts to 2-6 with a 4.65 ERA. "I've had a lot of conversations with Charlie since he last pitched," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said prior to Friday night's series opener with the Brewers, "and for us, and for him, it was inhibiting his ability to consistently finish pitches. He's felt some discomfort, but he's gotten to a point professionally where he's OK with dealing with some discomfort. "Could he go out and pitch? Yeah, 'I can go out and give you what I've been giving you,'" Hurdle added, paraphrasing his pitcher. "We haven't seen what we anticipated seeing, so this is gonna help him recover the quickest." The move with Morton keeps Doug Slaten, who had been called up when Cruz went on the restricted list, in the Pirates' bullpen as a second left-handed option alongside Tony Watson. In his only appearance, the 32-year-old veteran pitched a perfect inning against the Reds. Morton will refrain from throwing for a couple of days, has already begun rehab treatments and will tentatively spin a couple of bullpen sessions next week. According to Hurdle, Morton was fine with the club's decision to place him on the DL. "He was good with the fact he wasn't 100 percent. He was giving it everything he had," the manager said. "This will give him the opportunity to physically get back to a better place."
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.