CHICAGO – The Cubs got good news on ace starting pitcher Jon Lester on Saturday, but the news on closer Brandon Morrow is not so hot.
Lester threw about 45 pitches and worked out between “innings” of a simulated game as he nears a return from a left hamstring strain, suffered during the April 8 home opener. The Cubs will evaluate Lester on Sunday to see what the next step will be. There’s a chance he could return to the active roster and start later in the week.
Morrow, who has not pitched since before the All-Star break last year, suffered a recent setback while throwing a side session in Arizona.
The Cubs had been hoping to have Morrow back sometime in May, but that’s up in the air now.
“The bounce-back after the last time out wasn’t good,” manager Joe Maddon said. “So we’ve got to back off of him once again and just slow things down. It’s just where he’s at. It’s not unlike what had been going on earlier. It was all trending very well, and then this last time, just not as good. So just have to pay attention to what he’s saying.
“There will be a shutdown period.”
Morrow missed the post-All-Star break portion of last year because of right biceps inflammation. In November, he underwent an arthroscopic cleanup of his right elbow.
The news on Lester is much more optimistic. He pitched off the mound and then did agility drills on the side Saturday.
“Really well,” Maddon said. “I thought he looked really good. It’s pretty amazing where he’s at already. Threw 45 pitches, used them all. Standing from behind the catcher, you could see the movement. Everything was good. He was very hypercritical of himself. I thought he looked good. Did not hold back at all. So it’s very encouraging.
“It was pretty rigorous. Between innings, he had to do all those other fatiguing kind of exercises. It was more indicative of an actual pitching event because of all the stuff he did in between the innings.”
On the mend: Relief pitcher Xavier Cedeno (wrist) was set to make a rehab appearance Saturday night at Double-A Tennessee.
Tony Barnette (right shoulder inflammation) is scheduled to pitch for Triple-A Iowa on Sunday.