MacArthur: Morrow's season in doubt; Happ nearing return

Scott MacArthur
7/25/2013 12:35:09 AM
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TORONTO - The calendar is becoming Brandon Morrow's enemy.

The Blue Jays' right-hander, considered the club's number two starter behind R.A. Dickey at the start of the season, continues to feel pain in his right forearm.

"(He) still isn't feeling right," said general manager Alex Anthopoulos. "We're going to get him examined again. Again, we've gotten MRIs done before but it just doesn't feel 100 per cent."

Therein lies the problem. Imaging and other testing have shown only inflammation. Morrow throws bullpen sessions but doesn't bounce back. Speculation the pain could be tied to the ulnar ligament in his elbow, which if torn would require Tommy John surgery, is refuted.

"It hasn't progressed," said Anthopoulos. "We're going to give him a little more rest, maybe get him examined again. It's one of those things, it might just be rest. We've talked to our trainers about it. He's a lot better than he was and he feels better but he still doesn't feel like it's 100 per cent."

A lot must happen for Morrow to return this season. First, he needs to feel healthy enough to throw a simulated game. If he passes that test, he'd begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment.

Having not pitched in a big league game since May 28 and with only two innings under his belt (Dunedin on June 17), Morrow would essentially be starting over.

If Morrow doesn't get back on a mound soon, he'll run out of time on the season.

Injuries have limited Morrow to 31 starts since the beginning of 2012. He battled an oblique problem last year. Now it's the mystery forearm pain.

Does Morrow need to learn how to pitch hurt?

"He's done 180 or 184 (innings,) whatever it was," said Anthopoulos, referring to Morrow's 2011 season when he pitched 179 1/3 innings. "Does 16 innings to get to 200 change much? I don't know. I don't know that I would put the label on him like that. If he'd only been a 120-inning guy or 110 prior to, I think that would be fair. When guys are hurt, I don't know what's going through their bodies."

Happ nearing return

J.A. Happ, who pitched four innings of one-run ball in Buffalo on Tuesday before a rain delay cut short his outing at 60 pitches, is coming along but will need at least one more start before rejoining the Blue Jays.

"He was throwing well, he was feeling good," said Anthopoulos. "When he moves off the mound, he's still not 100 per cent. Obviously he can go out there and pitch but he's still a little bit stiff at times with some of the movements off the mound."

Happ was injured when he was hit in the head by a line drive on May 7 in Tampa Bay.

Happ suffered a minor skull fracture and required stitches in his left ear. His right knee buckled as he crumpled to the ground, causing a number of sprained ligaments from which he continues to recover.

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