CHICAGO -- Cubs reliever Brandon Morrow threw a 35-pitch bullpen on Wednesday and said he is aiming to return to games by the end of next week. However, even if all goes well in his return, the right-hander is not expecting to return to the closer's role.
"I'm just looking forward to coming back and contributing at all," Morrow said. "There haven't been any hiccups from [Pedro Strop], so there's no reason to switch up what's been working, even if I come back at 101 percent."
Morrow said he was "pleasantly surprised" with where his velocity sat during Wednesday's bullpen, especially because he wasn't throwing at maximum effort. The next step for Morrow will be a simulated game, which he said should be within the next few days, though no official date for that has been set.
Manager Joe Maddon said the Cubs will determine how exactly to use Morrow once he's ready to return to games, though he likely won't take on a substantial workload right away. Instead, Maddon said Morrow's usage will be similar to the gradual approach the club took with shortstop Addison Russell when he came off the disabled list on Sept. 1.
"The guy's been out for a long time, and other guys have been pitching well," Maddon said. "Of course, we want him to be that guy, of course you do. But if he's not ready yet then don't force it."
Both Morrow and Maddon said the Cubs don't need to rely on Morrow at the back end of their bullpen to win games. What matters is that Morrow is "able to participate in the bullpen effectively," Maddon said.
"We still have the best record in the National League without me for half a year. So obviously, I'm not the key," Morrow said. "But I think that everybody helps, and I think I bring at least a little bit of experience from last year."
The way Morrow pitched earlier this season, though, indicates he's more valuable than just a veteran with postseason experience. He's posted a 1.47 ERA with 22 saves in 35 games this year.
Darvish undergoes debridement surgery
Yu Darvish had arthroscopic debridement surgery for his right elbow on Wednesday in Dallas after receiving a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews, the Cubs said.
The club said Darvish is expected to be healthy and ready to pitch in time for Spring Training, which the 32-year-old starter also said Wednesday on Twitter.
The purpose of the procedure is to clean up some of the damage within his right elbow. Darvish had already been ruled out for the remainder of the season after suffering a setback during a Minor League rehab start with Class A South Bend last month, so the surgery has no impact on this year.
Darvish originally went on the disabled list at the end of May for right triceps tendinitis, and in his attempt to return, he was diagnosed with a right elbow impingement. Following his final rehab start in South Bend, which was cut short and lasted just one inning, an MRI a few days later revealed a stress reaction on his pitching elbow as well as a triceps strain.