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Morrow nearing return to Cubs' bullpen

Reliever has been out with forearm bone bruise, won't be used as closer
September 15, 2018

CHICAGO -- Brandon Morrow will be activated from the disabled list and back in the Cubs' bullpen next week for the first time since mid-July if he feels good after a 19-pitch simulated game on Saturday at Wrigley Field."My mechanics have been free, I don't feel like I'm holding back,"

CHICAGO -- Brandon Morrow will be activated from the disabled list and back in the Cubs' bullpen next week for the first time since mid-July if he feels good after a 19-pitch simulated game on Saturday at Wrigley Field.
"My mechanics have been free, I don't feel like I'm holding back," said Morrow, who has been sidelined with a bone bruise in his right forearm. "Everything feels good coming out. My command of my breaking stuff was really good, I thought. I have plenty to compete and throw the ball competitively.
"I'm the sign off. If it feels the same [Sunday], everything's all good."
Morrow, 34, began this season as the Cubs' closer, but will not be slotted into that role upon his return.
"If he's ready to go and we want to put him out there, I don't think it'll be the ninth inning," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "I want to give him a chance to break into it a little bit."
The Cubs used their seventh different pitcher as a closer on Friday when Jorge De La Rosa picked up his first career save in a 3-2 win over the Reds. Pedro Strop had handled most of the save situations since Morrow was sidelined, but he strained his left hamstring on Thursday and will not pitch again in the regular season.
"The downsides [to returning as closer] are I can't throw back to back and they're going to keep an eye on my pitch count the first couple times out, too," Morrow said. "We'll see. It's not for me to say. I will throw in whatever inning Joe puts me in. I'm comfortable pitching whenever."
On Saturday, Morrow did his best to follow his normal game routine. He played catch around 11 a.m. CT, then waited for about a half-hour, then prepared in the bullpen as if he was going into the game. He even jogged to the mound.
"I tried to simulate as much of a regular day as you can," he said. "Ideally, you'd like to have a couple more outings just to get yourself in a game and feel a little game adrenaline and a game routine. That's how I tried to do it today."

Maddon watched Morrow's outing along with Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, general manager Jed Hoyer and the athletic trainers.
"He threw well," Maddon said. "There was no hesitation in his delivery. He felt good, he looked good and afterword, spoke with him and he was kind of upbeat about the whole thing. We'll see what happens next."
The Cubs haven't ruled out Morrow closing again, even if he won't immediately.
"You just have to see him out there," Maddon said. "The hitters are going to tell you where he's at with his pitches. ... We have to get him out there versus competition and see what he looks like."
De La Rosa's first career save
When reporters approached De La Rosa to ask him about his first career save, Morrow quipped, "It's about time."
After pitching 15 seasons, primarily as a starter, the 37-year-old left-hander wasn't expecting to be closing games.

"I never closed a game in my life," De La Rosa said. "I'm happy they had the confidence to send me in there in the ninth and I'm glad to get the job done."
He wasn't aware that Maddon was leaning toward the lefty.
"They told us it will be matchups to finish the game," De La Rosa said. "I just tried to stay calm and make my pitch. That was my first save in 15 years but I didn't feel anything [different]. I was just trying to make my pitches."
Injury updates
Kyle Schwarber (back) is making progress and Maddon said there was a "decent shot he'll be able to play" when the Cubs face the D-backs in a series that starts Monday. Jason Heyward (hamstring) also is close to rejoining the team.
New "waffle makers"
On Friday, outfielder Ian Happ had three new "waffle makers" waiting for him, courtesy of some fans, and he responded by hitting a three-run homer in the Cubs' 3-2 win over the Reds. What's the connection?
"A guy says, if a ball's hit hard, it's 'waffled,'" Happ said Saturday. "We're making waffles."

Happ and Javier Baez were spotted in the Cubs' dugout after one game holding up a waffle maker almost like in "The Lion King." However, that appliance didn't last.
"We had the one and it worked for a few days and then unfortunately, it was dismantled, and I honestly don't think we hit a home run after it was broke," Happ said. "Now some fans have generously donated three waffle makers and then I hit a home run last night."

Quote of the day
"We always make fun of the cliche hashtags they make up for the teams each year, but 'Everybody in' is really fitting. Every single person who has been here has contributed on different days and come up big. That's the kind of team this is. It's a really good baseball team that plays really good baseball every day." -- Morrow

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.