It would almost be funny if it wasn’t so sad and frustrating. Once an elite closer, Brandon Morrow just hasn’t been able to stay healthy during his two-plus years with the Cubs. Not that he had a sterling track record before, but the rash of injuries that started when he tweaked his back taking his pants off in June of 2018 borders on ludicrous.
An undiagnosed stress reaction in his pitching elbow shut him down for the second half of 2018, after which an offseason cleanup procedure necessitated a late start the following spring. He received an injection of synthetic lubricant last April when he experienced inflammation in the same elbow, a measure typically reserved for arthritis sufferers, but it wasn’t enough to alleviate his discomfort entirely. Thus Morrow underwent yet another procedure in August to decompress a nerve in his elbow via hydrodissection.
The Cubs bought the flame-throwing righty out of the 2020 option on his contract, but he returned on a minor-league deal because he wanted another shot to pitch and felt he owed them. But, as if subject to some cruel karmic joke, Morrow continued to fall prey to the sting of the injury bug.
He was on a slow-but-steady throwing program and reported nothing worse than the usual aches and pains of spring training when a mild upper chest strain shut him down briefly. Then, the very day he was able to resume baseball activities, Morrow tore his calf while running. That’s it, just running. It’s become a parody at this point, really.
With all of that in mind, it’s understandable that Morrow might have a different perspective of the extended shutdown baseball is being forced to endure. As he told Gordon Wittenmyer, the lone beat writer left in Mesa, these next several weeks could work to his benefit.
“I’m good right now. I feel better,” Morrow said from the other side of a locked gate. “Obviously, the extra time is good for me to get healthy. And then there’s lots of rumors floating around about how the season will shake out. I think that benefits me, as well. Less games, more pressure to win.
“I don’t know what they’re going to do about salaries, but mine’s down anyway. So it’s easier to keep somebody like that around, I think. And if they expand rosters maybe, that would be another thing.”
Morrow acknowledged the absurdity of the whole situation, talking to a reporter through a fence like he would a thirsty fan stalking the complex for an autograph, but noted that his elbow feels good and he’s been playing catch. While there’s still a lot to figure out before MLB can return to action, the abbreviated season may necessitate expanded rosters. That would make more room for Morrow and others like him who are on low salaries and could be used more sporadically.
Chalk that up to the weirdness of this whole deal, though I think it’s important to find positives wherever we can these days. And if one of those is that Brandon Morrow may finally be healthy and able to contribute, well, you can bet your ass I’m going to cling to that sliver of hope as long as I can.