It's quite enough to do the dirty work. One shouldn't have to talk about it.

Good, then, for Pirates starter Charlie Morton that a day after his memorable start in Cincinnati, he still didn't admit to intentionally plunking Shin-Soo Choo on his first pitch.

Morton, slated to start Sunday in Anaheim, played coy when the topic arose.

“I gotta work 'em inside,” he said.

That's OK. The rest of us knew. His teammates knew. And the Cincinnati Reds certainly knew that Morton was answering for Aroldis Chapman shaving Neil Walker's chin a night earlier.

This was a simple act of baseball justice, understood on both sides.

Back here, however, there was deeper meaning ascribed not only to Morton nailing Choo in the knee but also buzzing Joey Votto high and tight two batters later. The sequence was shaped as some sort of Pirates' rite of passage. People saw it as the skinny kid finally standing up to the neighborhood bully (never mind that the allegedly intimidated Pirates already had won four of seven from the Reds this season).

One talk-show caller went so far as to suggest that Morton deserved a statue.

“That's ridiculous,” Morton said. “There are many more worthwhile reasons to erect a statue.”
Yes, and as much as Morton merits praise for avenging a teammate — others have shirked the duty in recent years — there were many more worthwhile reasons to like his start.

“Ground Chuck” was back in form, inducing gobs of groundball outs. He permitted just three singles, no walks and no runs over five-plus innings. It was a significant step forward in his second start since undergoing Tommy John surgery last June.

Some wondered whether general manger Neal Huntington had gone mad when he kept signing injured pitchers last winter. But look now: Francisco Liriano has paid dividends, and if Morton can recapture his 2011 form — when he went 10-10 with a 3.83 ERA — he'll be a bargain at $2 million (a pay cut of $445,000 from last season).

The key with Morton is to keep it simple. He is a thoughtful guy blessed and cursed with a 6-foot-5, 235-pound frame and crazy talent. Maybe too much talent. Definitely too much thinking earlier in his career.

Pitching coach Ray Searage has streamlined Morton's menu. The featured items have been a four-seam fastball and sinker through two starts (the first shaky) in which Morton has posted a 1.74 ERA.