Replacing near-flawless Wade Davis despite a lack of recent closer experience doesn’t faze Brandon Morrow. “I don’t think mentally it will be too big for me,” Morrow said at spring training Wednesday in a calm but direct tone. “I think I have come a long way.” Considering his array of health issues that stunted his development and prevented him from fulfilling once great expectations, Morrow’s perseverance was instrumental in an amazing 2017 season with the Dodgers that convinced the Cubs to sign him to a two-year, $21 million contract at 33 even though he had earned only two saves since 2009, both last season. “It never was a matter of stuff,” said Dan Hubbs, Morrow’s pitching coach at Cal-Berkeley who discovered him as the last pitcher auditioning for a spot on the NorCal Baseball Club before his junior season at Rancho Cotate High School. For Morrow, growing up in Rohnert Park, Calif., didn’t present him with top-notch competition. And being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes created doubt among some scouts, according to Rob Bruno, general manager of NorCal, which is a youth baseball program designed to help players advance to the college and professional level. But he persisted and the Mariners picked him fifth overall in the 2006 draft ahead of Andrew Miller, Clayton Kershaw, Tim Lincecum and Max Scherzer He came up to the majors in 2007 and of his 105 appearances his first two seasons, all but five were in relief. As time went on, injuries and the lack of a stable role fluctuating between staring and relieving impeded his full development. “I never thought I was on the edge of falling off,” Morrow said. “Maybe it looked that way, but I never felt like that. Maybe after the surgery when I had Valley fever (a fungal infection suffered while recovering from shoulder surgery in 2015) was a low spot for me, and trying to work my way back that year. But I was able to get myself up in the Padres bullpen (in 2016).
Brandon Morrow's injury-plagued odyssey led him to role of Cubs closer
Chicago Tribune | Feb 17