Tue Mar 19 3:41pm ET
By CARRIE MUSKAT
Players: Jon Lester, Pedro Strop, Brandon Kintzler, Brian Duensing, Brandon Morrow, Steve Cishek, Kris Bryant, Carl Edwards Jr.
FILE- In this June 24, 2018, file photo, Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Pedro Strop reacts in the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds in Cincinnati. Strop has a strained right hamstring, eliminating the likely candidate to close at the start of the season as Brandon Morrow recovers from elbow surgery. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)
MESA, Ariz. (AP) The Chicago Cubs received good news on closer Brandon Morrow and reliever Pedro Strop, who have both been slowed this spring by injuries.
Morrow threw 20 pitches in a bullpen session Monday, his first time off the mound this spring. He was limited to 35 games last season with the Cubs and did not pitch past July 15. He underwent a debridement on his right elbow in November. Morrow was expected to miss the first month of the season.
''It's a big step to get back up and off the slope,'' Morrow said Tuesday. ''To take that step, everything was good. There's nothing to report other than I felt great. It was just like a normal bullpen. I felt in rhythm mechanically after a few pitches. It was all good.''
Strop, who was projected to fill in as closer for Morrow, has been sidelined this spring because of a mild right hamstring strain. He threw a bullpen Tuesday for the first time since he was injured.
''There's a chance he may be ready (for the season opener),'' Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of Strop. ''Like I told him, don't push it right now. We were talking about the first series of the year. I'd much prefer that we don't have to deal with some issues during the course of the year. He gets it. We'll see how it plays out.''
If Strop isn't available, the Cubs' closer options include Steve Cishek, Carl Edwards Jr., Brandon Kintzler and Brian Duensing.
''I think we're pretty well set up,'' Morrow said of the closer situation. ''Every arm helps. I think people get nervous about quote-unquote closers. We've got a lot of guys who can handle it.''
Morrow said his rehab will include about six bullpen sessions, then a couple of live batting practice sessions before beginning a minor league rehab assignment.
NOTES: Maddon said third baseman Kris Bryant has looked strong this spring. Bryant played a career-low 102 games last season because of soreness in his left shoulder. ''He's ready to roll,'' Maddon said. ''He's smiling easily, nothing is forced. I think because he does feel so well, I anticipate good.'' ... Maddon has yet to announce the Cub' rotation for the opening series against the Texas Rangers other than Jon Lester will start opening day.