Pirates Righthander Bryan Morris Learning To Control His Game





Bradenton, Fla. — No prospect would want to be part of any trade involving Manny Ramirez and Jason Bay, much less to be identified as the primary return in that trade.

But such was the fate of Bryan Morris, the 23-year-old righthander the Pirates acquired along with three other players two summers ago in the three-team trade also involving the Red Sox and Dodgers, the team that selected Morris in the first round of the 2006 draft.

"It's almost impossible not to think about being part of the trade, but I'm trying not to," Morris said. "You can look at it both ways. If you succeed, they're going to pat you on the back and say, 'Great job, man.' If you don't do as well, they're going to think they wasted Jason Bay. Yeah, there are high expectations."

To date, Morris has not fulfilled those: He went 4-9, 5.57 with 32 strikeouts and 34 walks for high Class A Lynchburg last season and was suspended by the Pirates for berating an umpire in a game.

Because of that, he will stay at high Class A this season and focus on some minor mechanical adjustments, including a more relaxed tempo, being more direct to the plate and targeting his aggressiveness at a later point in his delivery. All of it is aimed at better fastball command.

Morris sounds amenable on that front now, but he acknowledged that was not always the case.

"We had our arguments back and forth. That, in and of itself, led to inconsistency in my game. I was battling the system when I shouldn't have. But now, I know what I've got to do."

TREASURE TROVE

• McKechnie Field, the Pirates' spring stadium and soon-to-be home of the high Class A Bradenton Marauders franchise of the Florida State League, will undergo a face lift this summer, including an outfield boardwalk for fans.

• The Pirates signed Dominican outfielder, Willy Garcia, 17, to a $280,000 bonus. The franchise never has paid a seven-figure bonus to a Latin American amateur.