The Cubs didn’t have a Cactus League game today and most of the players had the day off, but reliever Brandon Morrow took one more positive step forward in his return to the bullpen. The right-hander threw 20 pitches during a bullpen session and despite the slow path back from elbow surgery in November, Morrow hasn’t suffered any setbacks.

Morrow will still be out until May, but he was pitching free and easy on Monday, as he begins to amp up his throwing. He’s essentially starting spring training this week.

Via the Chicago Tribune.

Morrow, 34, displayed a sound, over-the-top delivery Monday reminiscent of his first half last year when he posted a 1.47 ERA and 22 saves thanks to a 98-mph fastball that suddenly dipped to 94 during a game in San Diego on July 15.

“All good,” Morrow said. “I’ve got nothing to complain about. I felt good mechanically, and the ball came out pretty well. There’s nothing to dwell on.

“I’ve been (throwing over the top) for pretty much the whole time. The first week I was just feeling it out, but I feel like I’ve been ready for a while to get (on) the mound, itching to go.

“But I’ve got to hit all the milestones in the throwing program.”

The Cubs are taking extra precaution with Morrow, after the closer missed half of the 2018 season because of an elbow injury. He eventually needed surgery in November to clear up some debris.

As far as Morrow’s potential replacement as the team’s closer to begin the season, Pedro Strop also appeared to take a step in the right direction. Strop suffered a minor hamstring strain a week ago, but seemed to be in good condition after doing some throwing on Saturday.

Strop has only pitched 1.2 innings in spring training, but he showed just last year that he doesn’t nee much time to get ready for the regular season. He only threw three innings during Cactus League play in 2018, as he was dealing with a minor injury then too.

The Cubs are hoping to get Strop in one more game to see how the hamstring is before Opening Day.

The Cubs start the season on the road against the Rangers on March 28.