Pirates activate Morton from DL to make Thursday start

Pirates pitcher Charlie Morton will make his return to the mound on Thursday, tabbed as the starter in Pittsburgh's series finale with San Francisco after the club activated him from the 60-day disabled list.

Morton hasn't pitched since May 29, 2012, and has been sidelined for more than a year thanks to right elbow inflammation which eventually required Tommy John surgery. He was 2-6 with a 4.65 earned run average in nine starts last season.

The Bucs also placed pitcher A.J. Burnett on the 15-day DL (retroactive to June 9) and released hurler Jose Contreras.

Burnett, who is sidelined with a right calf strain, is just 4-6 with a 3.12 ERA despite having started a MLB-high 14 games already in 2013.

Contreras, 41, did not record a decision in seven appearances this season, pitching to a 9.00 ERA by allowing five earned runs in five innings.