Phillies Notebook: Phils minor leaguer Morgan handles his hometown team's lineup

Chase Utley snags a line drive to end the first inning against the Braves.    MICHAEL BRYANT / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Chase Utley snags a line drive to end the first inning against the Braves.    MICHAEL BRYANT / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Posted: March 25, 2013

CLEARWATER, Fla. - When Adam Morgan was 16, he had a chance to pitch to current Braves star Jason Heyward when the two played on the same travel team.

"I got ahead of him, I remember, two strikes, and then that next pitch I tried to hump up and blow one by him," Morgan recalled, "and it went off the centerfield wall."

Morgan did not get a chance to face Heyward on Friday, but he did have plenty of success against his Atlanta teammates, holding the Braves to one run in 4 2/3 innings after the Phillies recalled him from minor league camp for a spot start.

For the 23-year-old lefty, it was one final opportunity to pitch in front of manager Charlie Manuel and pitching coach Rich Dubee, both of whom have input on personnel decisions that are made when injuries strike.

Morgan, who impressed the Phillies in a trio of outings during his stay in major league camp, held his own against a lineup that featured Atlanta regulars B.J. Upton, Freddie Freeman, Dan Uggla, and Chris Johnson.

He struck out five - Ramiro Pena and B.J. Upton among them - and walked three. Morgan allowed his only run on a solo homer by Evan Gattis.

After the 69-pitch outing, you could hear the excitement in Morgan's voice. As a kid growing up in Marietta, a suburb of Atlanta, he was a big Braves fan. On Friday, he was facing them.

"I mean, how awesome is that?" Morgan said. "Even if it is spring training, I'm going to take it, that I threw pretty good against the Braves."

The question now is, when will he get to face them again? A third-round pick out of the University of Alabama in 2011, Morgan has started just 37 career minor league games, only six of them above Class A.

Yet the Phillies appear to be contemplating sending him to Triple A to start the season, as he has been working out with the highest-level group in minor league camp.

The Phillies cleared a spot in the rotation at Lehigh Valley on Friday by releasing veteran Rodrigo Lopez, but general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. would only label Morgan at Triple A "a possibility."

Morgan, who last year went 4-1 with a 3.53 ERA, 29 strikeouts and 11 walks in 35 2/3 innings at Double A Reading after posting a 3.29 ERA in 20 starts at Clearwater, said he feels like he is ready for Triple A but acknowledged that it is not his opinion that matters.

"That's their decision and wherever they want to put me, I'm going to do my best to help the team win," he said.

A step forward

Outfielder Delmon Young did not know he would be playing in a game on Friday until that morning, when head athletic trainer Scott Sheridan cleared him to take at-bats in a minor league game without running the bases or playing the field. Young did not know he would be facing defending NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey until he showed up at the Blue Jays' training complex in Dunedin and saw the knuckleballer warming up. It all worked out, as Young homered off Dickey and had three other at-bats in his first live - or at least plausibly live - action since undergoing microfracture ankle surgery in November.

"Just doing something else; just being able to take a bath without worrying about getting my stitches wet was a relief," Young said. "Anything that gets closer to normal is good for me mentally, because sitting back and doing the same old thing over and over and not doing other stuff, it can be overwhelming sometimes."

Young still has plenty of work to do until he is ready for the regular season. The Phillies' rough target is mid-to-late April, although they acknowledge it could be later.

"I don't even know what the schedule is for microfracture surgery," Young said. "I know you don't want to reinjure it because it will be even longer or you'll be having surgery again. It's just good that I was able to do something."

Phillers

Carlos Ruiz will catch Roy Halladay in a minor league game on Saturday morning. Halladay lasted one inning last Sunday before succumbing to a stomach virus. Ruiz took a pitch off his left hand Thursday against the Red Sox . . . Outfielder Jermaine Mitchell was assigned to minor league camp.


On Twitter: @HighCheese

Blog: philly.com/HighCheese

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