PITTSBURGH -- First baseman Jeff Clement is unlikely to play again in 2010 after an exam on Saturday revealed that he had pulled his left oblique muscle, manager John Russell said. Clement sustained the injury while rehabbing a left knee injury with Triple-A Indianapolis.
Now that his season results are in the books, Clement will have to spend the offseason wondering what his future holds in Pittsburgh. Given the opportunity to start the season as the everyday first baseman, Clement found himself demoted in June after disappointing offensive production.
On the season, he hit just .201 with three doubles, seven homers and 12 RBIs in 54 games.
How Clement will fit into the organization's future plans will depend largely on what upgrades the Pirates make this offseason. If the club brings in a new starting right fielder or first baseman -- which would likely leave Garrett Jones to assume the other of those two spots -- Clement doesn't appear to have anything better than a bench spot to win in camp.
Clement will also be out of options next season, meaning that if he doesn't make the Pirates' 25-man roster out of Spring Training, the club will risk losing him to another team.
Despite the uncertainty around Clement's fit here next season, the Pirates aren't publicly counting him out altogether just yet.
"There is still an opportunity, it's just a matter of being healthy," Russell said. "The main thing we're concerned about now is being healthy. Coming into next year, we'll see how he fits. If the guy goes out and does what he's capable of doing, you make opportunities. That's what we're looking for out of Jeff next year."
Morton looks to get better results with fastball
PITTSBURGH -- The often overly analytical Charlie Morton will take the mound on Sunday with the goal of making the game simple. And in that simplicity, Morton hopes he can regain his aggressiveness.
The simple plan -- throw more fastballs.
Morton's last start was doomed by his unwillingness to rely heavily enough on his fastball, a pitch that, when working, is the right-hander's biggest weapon. But instead of relying on his strength, Morton spent last Sunday repeatedly shaking off catcher Ryan Doumit and then paying for the over-reliance on his offspeed pitches.
Morton will be working with catcher Chris Snyder in this next start, and he's been told to trust Snyder's game-calling ability and to trust his own ability. That seems simple enough, though it hasn't always been for Morton.
"I think it all stems from being aggressive and having the fastball mentality," Morton said. "I think it's easy to get away from that sometimes. Throwing a curveball and trying to get swings and misses, it's enticing. You get away from your game plan. I think the reality is that you get ahead with your fastball and you can still put people away with your fastball. I think mine is good enough to get outs."
The Pirates firmly believe his fastball is better than 'good enough.' The club pushed Morton's start back a day so the righty could have extra time working with pitching coach Ray Searage, whose mantra all week was to be aggressive.
Sunday will mark Morton's second start since being recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis. Morton lasted only 3 1/3 innings a week ago, allowing nine hits and eight earned runs in the outing. He is 1-10 with a 10.03 ERA in 11 starts this season.
"I know he's worked really hard," manager John Russell said. "I think he's going to be ready for it. We're hoping that he comes around and does some of the good things that we know Charlie is capable of doing."
Pirates to unveil Mazeroski statue Sunday
PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates will hold a ceremony for the unveiling of a Bill Mazeroski statue outside of PNC Park's right-field gate prior to Sunday's game. The dedication is scheduled to begin at 12:45 p.m. ET.
Fittingly, the statue's unveiling comes as a part of the 50th anniversary of the Pirates' third World Series championship. Though Mazeroski earned eight Gold Glove Awards and was elected to seven All-Star Games during his 17-year career, he is best known for hitting a game-winning homer against the Yankees in the seventh game of that Fall Classic.
Mazeroski's statue will be the fourth full-body statue of a Pirates player to be placed at the ballpark. Honus Wagner, Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargell have already been immortalized in such a way.
"He did something great in baseball," said Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen. "And it's not just that moment that makes him who he is. It's the way he carries himself, and the way he carried himself when he played. He didn't change. He still seems like the same humble guy. I'm sure he's going to enjoy the statue, but [he'll] say they didn't have to do it, just because that's the way he is."
Scheduled to be in attendance for the unveiling are Mazeroski's two sons, Darren and David; Mazeroski's grandson, Billy; and former teammates Bob Friend, Dick Groat, ElRoy Face and Bill Virdon.
Fans are welcome to watch the ceremony live from the north end of Mazeroski Way or inside the ballpark on the video board.
Right-hander Evan Meek said he expects to be cleared to pitch out of the bullpen on Monday after his successful throwing session off the mound on Friday. Meek threw long toss on flat ground on Saturday and will throw off the mound again on Sunday one more time. ... The Pirates' Class A affiliate in Bradenton has clinched a berth in the Florida State League playoffs. Its playoff series begins next week. ... Triple-A Indianapolis named outfielder Brandon Moss the club's Most Valuable Player in 2010. Other award recipients on the team include: Alex Presley (Rookie of the Year), Jeremy Powell (Most Valuable Starting Pitcher), Erik Kratz (Slugger of the Year) and Jean Machi (Henry Smock Relief Pitcher of the Year).
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.