PITTSBURGH (AP) -Matt Morris, the veteran right-hander added by the Pittsburgh Pirates late last season to stabilize a young rotation, was released Sunday after failing to pitch past the second inning in his latest start.
The decision to cut Morris will cost the Pirates more than $10 million, in addition to what they already have paid him this season. Morris is making $10,037,283 this season, or about one-fifth of their payroll, and has a $1 million buyout for 2009.
``Matt Morris is a true professional,'' manager John Russell said. ``He's had a great career. He wanted to help us win, but it just wasn't working out.''
Morris is 121-92 with a 3.98 ERA in 11 seasons, mostly with the Cardinals. He was a career-best 22-8 with a 3.16 ERA in 2001 and averaged nearly 16 wins per season with St. Louis from 2001-05.
The 33-year-old Morris was ineffective in all five starts this season, unable to throw with much velocity or to locate his breaking pitches. He was 0-4 with a 9.67 ERA, giving up six runs, three earned, and six hits in 1 2-3 innings during an 8-4 loss to the Phillies on Saturday night.
Morris was shelled in each of his final three starts, surrendering 22 hits and 20 runs, 17 earned, in 10 1-3 innings against the Dodgers, Marlins and Phillies.
In slightly less than three months with the Pirates, including the final two months of last season, Morris was 3-8 in 16 starts with a 7.04 ERA.
After Morris' poor start Saturday night, Russell said it was too early to decide what the team should do with Morris. The Pirates subsequently determined they couldn't keep using a pitcher who hasn't lasted longer than 4 2-3 innings in his last three starts. They chose not to keep him on the staff as a reliever.
Morris and his full salary were picked up from San Francisco in a trading deadline deal on July 31. The idea was that Morris, who had been 7-7 with a 4.35 ERA with the Giants, would prop up a Pirates rotation in which every other starter was 25 or younger.
However, Morris never settled in with the Pirates. His velocity was down considerably this season - his fastball often topped out at 85 or 86 mph - and he repeatedly had trouble keeping his pitches down in the strike zone.
Left-hander Phil Dumatrait (0-1, 3.92 ERA), picked up from the Reds on waivers after last season, will move into the rotation Thursday at Washington.
To replace Morris on the 25-man roster, right-hander John Van Benschoten was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis and will go into the bullpen at least temporarily.
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