© The Associated Press
Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Brandon Morrow delivers in the first inning of a spring exhibition baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies in Dunedin, Fla., Monday, March 24.
TORONTO — Injured Toronto Blue Jays right-hander Brandon Morrow doesn’t have a timeline in place for his return to the lineup.
He’s just happy to have his uniform on and be back with teammates after a long stint away from the club while rehabilitating a finger injury.
Morrow returned to Rogers Centre on Tuesday and made 25 throws from 60 feet before the team took batting practice. It was the latest step in his recovery after suffering a torn tendon sheath in his throwing hand on May 2.
“It’s not 100 per cent but it’s not painful,” Morrow said. “It’s just kind of stiff from not really using it for six weeks. It actually feels better after I throw. It loosens it up and the range of motion gets better.
“So it’s been great. Throwing has been good for the last week.”
Morrow had been rehabilitating in Arizona, spending up to two hours a day doing grip exercises to slowly strengthen his index finger.
“There’s a lot of pinching and a lot of Play-Doh squeezing,” he said. “That’s it really.”
Over the weekend, he took another step and started throwing from 45 feet. While the sessions would barely get his shoulder warm, Morrow understands it’s all part of the slow, long process of regaining strength and mobility.
“It can heal back and that’s what we’re hoping for,” he said. “If there was no chance of it doing that, then I would have just had surgery that first week. But there’s obviously a good chance of rehabbing it naturally I guess, and avoiding surgery and being healthy and getting it back to where I need it to be.”
Morrow, who’s 1-2 with a 5.93 earned-run average this season, had his finger completely immobilized for two weeks after the injury. He couldn’t lift upper-body weights for about four weeks until he felt comfortable gripping things again.
Morrow wore a custom brace on his finger while throwing Tuesday.
“There’s no doubt that if (his recovery) continues the way it has been that I’ll pitch again this year,” he said. “I can’t put a date on it. They just put together a calendar for me, which I haven’t even seen. This is my fifth day throwing so it’s too early to say.”
The 29-year-old native of Santa Rosa, Calif., was tabbed to be a key part of the Toronto rotation this season. His potential return could give the first-place Blue Jays a nice boost for the stretch drive.
“That’s what I’m looking to do is to come in at a really crucial point in the season and be able to pitch the way that I have in the past and contribute and add something to the team,” Morrow said.
There were hugs and handshakes all around Tuesday afternoon as he caught up with teammates in the clubhouse and dugout before Tuesday night’s game against the New York Yankees.
“I think it was for my own sanity to come back,” Morrow joked. “But yeah, I’m to the point where I don’t need the hand therapy three times a week anymore, where the rehab is more now throwing and getting back into a regular baseball throwing program routine.
“It makes sense to make that transition from doing the small stuff to more of the baseball stuff. So it makes sense to come back.”