Cubs RHP Morrow confident in return this season

MESA, Ariz. -- Chicago Cubs closer Brandon Morrow is confident he'll pitch again this year despite another setback from offseason elbow injury.

Morrow, 33, was shut down recently after experiencing some pain in his elbow, after having minor surgery on it over the winter. He has been on the injured list since last year's All-Star break, his ninth career stint on the IL.

"It's part of the job," Morrow said Friday from the Cubs' spring training complex. "Unfortunately it's been a big part of my job."

Morrow indicated everything was going well during his bullpen sessions leading up to pitching against hitters in live batting practice. His first outing against batters went fine -- he said he was hitting 95 mph on the radar gun -- but he felt some "irritation" after his second time out. That's when the Cubs sent him for some tests.

"I've had the images and those actually came back positive so that's a good thing," Morrow said. "It shows just irritation around the surgical site and we're going to let that calm down and resume after that."

Morrow went on to say the images did not show a bone bruise, which was the original reason he went under the knife. In his estimation, the irritation was more of a post-surgery thing, so time and some treatment should take care of it. He'll have a Synvisc injection on Monday, a procedure typically done on an athlete's knee.

"That will lubricate and help to protect the area around my elbow," Morrow explained.

The procedure is more of a short-term helper rather than a permanent fix. The veteran was emphatic in his desire to pitch again this year but, so far, he has been stuck rehabbing at the Cubs' spring facility since early February.

"I haven't been left behind before," Morrow half-smiled about the team breaking camp without him. "It stinks. It's like spring training still, every day."

It didn't help his mood when the Cubs blew three leads -- playing without him -- during the first week of the season, though the Cubs have pitched better since then.

"You think about that every day," he said of not contributing. "Seems like everyone has balanced out though."

Asked if he thought he could be done for the season -- or even his career -- Morrow didn't hesitate.

"I don't think so because it doesn't seem like something that should shut me down for the whole year," Morrow said. "I'm not trying to pull the wool over anyone's eyes or fog what's going on. I felt really good all the way through my first live BP. I felt like I could have been in a major league game that day, easy."

That was about three weeks ago. Now, it's wait and see for a needed piece to the Cubs' puzzle.

Morrow was 22-for-24 in save opportunities before going down last season. He's hopeful it's not the last Cubs fans have seen of him. He's in the final year of a two-year deal with a club option for the 2020 season.

"Every injury I've come back the same or better," Morrow stated. "Frustrating it's going to be a little longer but just needs a little more time to heal."