Brandon Morrow hoped to be back in the starting rotation this homestand.
It’s not going to happen … but, he’s getting closer.
Morrow threw a simulated game Thursday – about 45 pitches – and said afterward his shoulder felt “great” and that the progress was positive, despite the longer timeline.
“It took an extra four of five days longer, and then that’s an extra four or five days you have to rest and come back, and then work up your pitch count and everything,” he said, adding that since he’s thrown his recent bullpens, it’s the “best he’s felt all year.”
If there’s no unusual soreness, Morrow may be looking at a few rehab starts as early as next week, though manager Bud Black tempered that with a “wait and see” attitude.
“I’m very encouraged by how he threw today,” Black said. “Hopefully he’ll come out of this fine. In a couple days we’ll have more of an idea of what’s going on, to see where this is headed.”
Although the pitching has improved of late – nine consecutive successful starts going into Thursday’s game – Morrow’s return will be welcomed and will allow Odrisamer Despaigne to return to the bullpen and his long relief role. Despaigne’s last two starts have been strong – (he didn’t allow a run Tuesday and only allowed two the previous outing) – but he allowed 15 runs in the two starts prior, and the shakiness can stall a rotation that’s trying to find consistent success.
The more interesting story will be what happens in the infield.
First baseman Yonder Alonso played in a rehab game yesterday with Lake Elsinore, going 1-for-3 with a walk, and will play again tonight before heading to El Paso Friday. A few steps behind Alonso is Wil Myers, who is still fighting left wrist tendonitis but feeling better, Black said, adding that they’re hopeful he may take some swings in the batting cage as early as this weekend.
So, what happens when Alonso and Myers – who were both hitting well before their stints on the disabled list — come back? Myers has already said he feels comfortable at first base and wants to play there, but then that would leave Alonso where, exactly? And with Will Venable arguably the best center fielder the team has, and hitting .333 in the month of May, would it be prudent to keep him off the bench? Does someone move to shortstop or take the place of Will Middlebrooks (.226) at third base? More platooning?
Between Jedd Gyorko (.204), Yangervis Solarte (.274), Cory Spangenberg (.228), Clint Barmes (.222) and Myers, Alonso and Middlebrooks, there could be some serious musical chairs.
Frankly, I have no idea.
Among baseball circles, these things “usually have a way of working themselves out.”
We’ll see soon enough.