Morris hopes those days are behind him as he makes his season debut for the surging Cardinals against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Morris fashioned a 15-10 record with a career-high 4.76 ERA in 32 starts last season. He underwent right shoulder surgery in the offseason, but is ready to go following a lengthy rehabilitation.
“Watching the team play and the guys pitch and all that stuff (is difficult),” Morris said. “It’s hard sitting in Florida watching them on the satellite, but I’m finally with the team and anxious to put my piece in.”
The 30-year-old right-hander made a pair of rehab starts with Class A Palm Beach and allowed five runs and eight hits over 5 2-3 innings against Jupiter on Wednesday. The Cardinals are looking to limit Morris to approximately 85 pitches on Tuesday.
“We don’t expect miracles and we don’t expect that he’s going to go out there and pitch a no-hitter,” St. Louis pitching coach Dave Duncan said. “Our expectations are realistic, but it’s important to get him back on the mound and get him going and get a couple of starts under his belt and hopefully get him productive for the season.”
Morris is 8-4 with a 2.37 ERA in 12 career starts against the Pirates. He is 4-0 with a 2.84 ERA in five career starts at PNC Park.
St. Louis is poised to cap a 5-0 road trip following an 11-1 victory on Monday. Jim Edmonds homered, So Taguchi drove in three runs and Mark Mulder earned his first win as a Cardinal with eight superb innings.
The Cardinals scored nine runs in the ninth inning, the biggest frame against the Pirates since St. Louis’ 10-run inning on Aug. 19, 2003.
Pittsburgh, which has dropped eight straight to first-place St. Louis, has scored a total of six runs during its current three-game losing streak.
“We can’t panic,” Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said. “We have to continue to work on things that are going to make us better. We have to stay consistent with our work habits and hopefully this thing will click.”