Erstwhile Cubs closer Brandon Morrow had been coming back from a July 2018 stress reaction in his elbow – the precursor to a stress fracture – when things went sideways in September, and made it clear he was not going to be able to return to pitch last season.
Then, through the process, the Cubs later discovered that he needed arthroscopic surgery to clean up some cartilage issues in the elbow in November. That put his return timeline back into the start of the regular season 2019, assuming all went well from there, which, of course, was not a reasonable assumption given his age and injury history.
Fast-forward to Spring Training, where Morrow’s ramp-up is going reasonably well until his final live BP session when he felt pain his elbow and didn’t bounce back like he would have expected. Turns out, the pain he was experiencing was similar to the stress reaction pain he was feeling last year. That’s definitely the bad and scary news in this situation.
But the good news is he got a scan done, and apparently it does NOT show a stress reaction – instead, it just shows “irritation” around the surgery site from last year:
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) April 27, 2019
Morrow is set to get an injection on Monday to help lubricate that area (ESPN), which, together with rest, will hopefully put him in a position to get back to throwing eventually.
There is no specifically enumerated timetable for a Morrow return, though he does feel confident he’ll be back this year. But that’s about as hopeful as you can get.
If he needs an extended ramp-up time whenever he is ready to throw again – a couple more weeks? – you’d probably be looking at something like four or five weeks beyond that before he’d be pitching in competitive action, without setbacks. So, best case, you’re talking about a return to the Cubs sometime in June. A more realistic hope is probably the second half of the season. I’m sure the Cubs would love to at least get him back before the Trade Deadline so they can preserve a little leverage on that front (to say nothing of actually being able to count on Morrow being an impactful addition at that point).
In the meantime, here’s hoping the many, many available arms settle into roles where it can overall be a good bullpen. The last few weeks have actually been pretty solid on that front.