Cubs closer Brandon Morrow takes step forward in recovery
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Brandon Morrow took a step — albeit a small one — in his recovery from right biceps inflammation that landed the Cubs’ closer on the disabled list.
For the first time since being put on the DL July 18, the right-hander played catch from flat ground in the outfield before the game against the Padres on Thursday night at Wrigley Field. Morrow threw about 30 pitches and afterward said “it felt good.”
“I just went out and played catch probably to 60 feet just to give myself a gauge on how it was going to feel,” Morrow said. “I wasn’t pushing anything; it wasn’t the start of any type of throwing program. It was just to test it out.”
“We’ll see how it responds [Friday]. Based on [Thursday], I don’t expect any problems. I’ll play catch again [Friday] and then hopefully the day after that and the day after that.”
Morrow is 0-0 with a 1.47 ERA, 22 saves and 31 strikeouts in 30⅔ innings in 35 appearances this season. He said the goal is to take his time to ensure that he is 100 percent for the stretch run.
“You want to come back where you need a day off every other day … [instead of] after five appearances you feel like you’re not going to be feeling good again,” Morrow said. “We want to make sure it’s going to be good throughout the rest of the season and into maybe the playoffs.”
There was some more good news on the injured pitching front as Drew Smyly, who hasn’t pitched this season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, threw a simulated game in front of Cubs executives Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer and manager Joe Maddon, among others.
The left-hander, who was a combined 31-27 with a 3.74 ERA in five seasons with the Tigers and Rays before signing with the Cubs on Dec. 12, threw two 15-pitch simulated innings, with Tommy La Stella and Victor Caratini posing as hitters.
“I thought he finished strongly, [and] he agreed with that,” Maddon said. “His fastball started to jump those second 15 pitches. [He had] a little bit of a command issue with his curve and his changeup [wasn’t] sharp, but he only threw three in each set. Smyly left -smiling.”
Maddon said there has been no change in the status of third baseman Kris Bryant. The slugger, who is in his second stint on the disabled list with left shoulder inflammation, took range-of-motion tests with trainer PJ Mainville on Wednesday. “[Bryant] was still feeling it a little bit in different spots, so he kind of backed off,” Maddon said.
He said it
Maddon was discussing standout seasons for some of the Cubs when he came upon veteran Ben Zobrist.
“ ’Zo’s my age, and he’s hitting over .300 … [and] he’s playing at a high level on defense.”
For the record, Zobrist is 37 and Maddon is 64.