Put this one right up there with Sammy Sosa’s sneeze, Mike Remlinger’s recliner and Kerry Wood’s hot tub.
“I was taking my pants off,” Cubs closer Brandon Morrow said.
To the vast annals of “Cubbie Occurrence” injuries, add Morrow’s clothing-induced back spasms suffered Monday morning after the team’s return in the wee hours from its late-night game in St. Louis.
“Just undressing at my house,” he said. “Like 3 a.m., in the closet, got my right leg off. Left one just felt like a spasm in my back.”
For a team jockeying for first place in a season of big plans for October, Morrow’s injury is no laughing matter. It might have cost the Cubs a game Tuesday afternoon when replacement closer Justin Wilson blew a ninth-inning lead in a 4-3 loss to the Dodgers in the opener of a day-night doubleheader.
And it is unclear whether it will cost the likely All-Star a turn on the 10-day disabled list. Morrow’s status is day-to-day as the medical staff takes a “kitchen sink” approach with different methods to loosen the knot, he said.
“I’m hoping that since it’s not like a trauma-induced spasm — like I wasn’t throwing a pitch or lifting something or twisting — that once the muscle relaxes it should be OK,” the veteran right-hander said. “It’s very localized. It’s not like it’s spreading out and stuff.”
He wouldn’t be the first Cub to land on the DL with a non-baseball malady. Sosa’s famous sneeze in the clubhouse in 2004 caused a back spasm that put him on the DL. The following year, Remlinger broke his pinky finger when it got caught between two recliners at the clubhouse.
Wood missed the start of spring training in 2007 after bruising his chest slipping in the hot tub.
His injury was the first of several incidents that led to former manager Lou Piniella coining the term “Cubbie Occurrence.”
“It’s frustrating any time you can’t get out there,” Morrow said, “especially when you can’t go because of something stupid like taking your pants off.”
To keep the Dodgers from finding out, the team didn’t divulge the injury to the media before the game.
When the Cubs took a 3-2 lead to the ninth with the top of the Dodgers order due up, manager Joe Maddon went to the lefty Wilson, the former Tigers closer, sending social media into a head-scratching fit.
Wilson, who struggled with command last year since being acquired in a trade and again early this season, walked the leadoff hitter and gave up a one-out single to Justin Turner.
After Yasmani Grandal struck out looking — then got ejected for arguing — pinch-hitter Kyle Farmer drove a 2-2 pitch past a diving Kris Bryant and into the left-field corner for the go-ahead, two-run double.
“Obviously, you would love to have your full complement of guys out there, but we also feel very strongly about other guys,” said catcher Chris Gimenez, who added he’d call the same inside cutter to Farmer “10 times out of 10” and was fine with the execution.
“Justin’s been out there as a closer for a long time, too,” Gimenez said. “And if it wasn’t for a quarter- inch here or there, we’d be laughing about it right now.”
It was one of the toughest losses of the season for the Cubs, who were in first place in the NL Central by percentage points when the day started.
“That one was a tough one to swallow,” said Bryant, who said he thought he should have been able to at least knock Farmer’s hit down. “But we’re pretty good at bouncing back, and we’ll be all right.”
The bigger loss, if the injury lingers, would be Morrow, who was forced to watch the ninth inning from the clubhouse.
“Getting hurt any time’s frustrating,” Morrow said, “but when it’s not related to throwing a baseball it’s even that much more frustrating.”