TORONTO – Brandon Morrow is back with the Blue Jays. Not to pitch, though, as he's not close to a return to the mound, but as he progresses in his rehabilitation from a torn tendon sheath in his right index finger, it's time to come under the closer watch of the ballclub's medical and training staff.
Throwing once again, Morrow shared that there is no “drop dead” date to determine whether he'll need surgery on the injury, a procedure which would end his season and possibly his tenure in Toronto.
“I would take it as far as until it went out again, until it tore,” said Morrow. “If it tore, it would probably take the other pulley with it and then I would need to get it fixed. I'm just going to take it up until that point and not worry about it.”
Often when an athlete gets injured, he's out of sight, out of mind. The team must go on without him. Little thought is paid to the hours of rehab required. It can get lonely and boring for the guy going through it. The situation can be made worse depending on the type of injury sustained. For Morrow it's a finger, which is especially limiting.
Following the first two weeks of recovery, during which his right hand was completely immobilized by a splint, he began with pinching exercises using clothespins and putty. For one to two hours, three days a week, Morrow was at a Phoenix-area clinic working through his program with others who suffered similar hand and wrist injuries. A number of people with carpal tunnel syndrome were classmates.
Morrow's gym work was limited to lower-body strength exercises. He could still work his shoulders using two and three-pound weights, being careful with his grip. After about a month, he resumed an upper body regimen.
For the last five days, Morrow has been throwing a baseball. He's just playing catch at this point; from 45 feet for four days, extending to 60 feet on Tuesday afternoon. His finger is far from 100 per cent, not in pain, but still stiff.
“It actually feels better after I throw,” said Morrow. “It kind of loosens it up and the range of motion gets better. It's been great. Throwing has been good for the last week.”
Morrow would sit on his couch and watch the Blue Jays. It's strange being a member of a team but being so far away from your mates. Morrow was close to four thousand kilometres away, staring at a TV.
“You kind of feel like that, you kind of feel like a fan,” said Morrow. “But obviously you know a little bit more of what's going on in the game. You feel the emotions a little bit more because you've been there. I know the fans are invested, but they don't quite as emotionally invested as the players do, although some might say they do. Sometimes it's hard to watch because you can't help out.”
Morrow would like to return as a starter. What isn't clear is how long he'll need to get back up on a mound. That won't be happening anytime soon and he's been down long enough that he'll need another spring training-like experience to get his arm stretched out.
Regardless, in the final guaranteed year of his deal (the Blue Jays hold a $10 million option for 2015 that's unlikely to be picked up), he wants to play a role in a pennant drive. He's motivated.
“That's really what you've got to use,” said Morrow. “There's nothing else to motivate you. When you look up and see them keep winning everyday it gives you a better chance at doing that. I don't think I've ever pitched in a pennant race so it was exciting, even for me sitting at home and watching, to watch them win.”
Morrow will remain with the Blue Jays until such time as he heads out on a minor-league rehabilitation assignment.
He'll be here for a while.