CHICAGO – The Chicago Cubs are likely to be without closer Brandon Morrow for the early portion of 2019 after the righty had minor surgery on his elbow last month. Morrow, 34, missed the second half of last season with a bone bruise and won’t begin throwing again until around Feb. 6.

“This was a cleanup of some cartilage, done arthroscopically,” Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said Thursday.

The procedure was similar to the one starter Yu Darvish underwent late in the year after missing most of 2018. Darvish is on time in his recovery.

“Doing well,” Epstein said. “Progressing without limitations.”

Morrow appeared in just 35 games for the Cubs in 2018 because of back and arm injuries. Morrow had 22 saves while posting a 1.47 ERA in 30 2/3 innings. He did not pitch after July 15.

Epstein admitted that Morrow’s health will impact their offseason needs, as they were looking for relief help anyway. Pedro Strop was the predominant fill-in after Morrow went down last year, but they’ll need more, especially from the left side.

“It underscores the need for depth and late-game options early in the year,” Epstein said.

The team has been in contact with lefty free agent Zach Britton, according to sources, but nothing is imminent. Epstein confirmed the Cubs aren’t on the verge of making any deals in advance of the winter meetings next week.

The team also announced coaching moves as 37-year-old Tommy Hottovoy was promoted from run prevention coordinator to pitching coach after Jim Hickey left the team for personal reasons. The team also hired former big league player Terrmel Sledge as assistant hitting coach and Chris Denorfia as quality assurance coach. Catching coordinator and game planner Mike Borzello was promoted to associate pitching coach.

“We felt there was great risk going outside and losing what we had,” Epstein said of promoting from within.


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