Morton slated to rejoin rotation next week

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Morton threw 48 pitches in four innings Tuesday for Triple-A Fresno (and threw 15 more in the bullpen) in his second rehab start. He said Thursday he felt like he was ready to return. He’s 5-3 with a 4.06 EREA in 10 starts with 65 strikeouts in 57 2/3 innings.

“We’d like to build up his pitch count and arm strength and endurance and not go into a game with another short start,” Hinch said. “We’ve asked a lot out of our bullpen. So it’s a combination of ensuring Charlie’s ready and protecting some of the innings that we’ve had to absorb.”

The Astros close out the first half of the season at the Blue Jays on July 6-9. Morton’s return would move the Astros another step closer to getting their rotation intact. Lance McCullers Jr. made his second start Friday in the opener against the Yankees after spending two weeks on the DL with lower back discomfort.

Ace lefty Dallas Keuchel has yet to throw off the mound after going on the DL on June 5 with neck discomfort and is expected back after the July 11 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard. Right-hander Collin McHugh (posterior impingement in right elbow) is on a lengthy Minor League rehab and was scheduled to pitch Friday for Corpus Christi.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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