Cubs relievers Morrow, Strop progressing well

MESA, Ariz. -- The Chicago Cubs received good news on closer Brandon Morrow and reliever Pedro Strop, who have both been slowed this spring by injuries.

Morrow threw 20 pitches in a bullpen session Monday, his first time off the mound this spring. He was limited to 35 games last season with the Cubs and did not pitch past July 15. He underwent a debridement on his right elbow in November. Morrow was expected to miss the first month of the season.

"It's a big step to get back up and off the slope," Morrow said Tuesday. "To take that step, everything was good. There's nothing to report other than I felt great. It was just like a normal bullpen. I felt in rhythm mechanically after a few pitches. It was all good."

Strop, who was projected to fill in as closer for Morrow, has been sidelined this spring because of a mild right hamstring strain. He threw a bullpen session Tuesday for the first time since he was injured.

"There's a chance he may be ready [for the season opener]," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of Strop. "Like I told him, don't push it right now. We were talking about the first series of the year. I'd much prefer that we don't have to deal with some issues during the course of the year. He gets it. We'll see how it plays out."

If Strop isn't available, the Cubs' closer options include Steve Cishek, Carl Edwards Jr., Brandon Kintzler and Brian Duensing.

"I think we're pretty well set up," Morrow said of the closer situation. "Every arm helps. I think people get nervous about quote/unquote closers. We've got a lot of guys who can handle it."

Morrow said his rehab will include about six bullpen sessions, then a couple of live batting practice sessions before beginning a minor league rehab assignment.
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