Morrow expected to make two more rehab starts

Morrow expected to make two more rehab starts

TORONTO -- Brandon Morrow's return to the Blue Jays likely won't happen for at least another 11 days.

Morrow is scheduled to make a rehab start for Double-A New Hampshire on Tuesday night. That was originally expected to be his final rehab outing, but the Blue Jays are now plannning to give him one more Minor League start to ensure his arm is properly stretched out.

"To get him to what we feel is a comfortable level of 85 pitches at the Minor League level before getting back here, he's going to need two more starts to accomplish that," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said.

"We're not going to look to add 15 pitches [in his first big league start] to get to 85-plus bringing him back. As we mentioned the other day, it's a compounding effect in my mind."

Morrow allowed just two runs on three hits while striking out two in his first start for New Hampshire. That followed two outings for Class A Dunedin, but in his final start he threw just 51 pitches.

That prompted the Blue Jays to decide he will need a little more time before making a return. The concern is that bringing back Morrow too early would result in overtaxing the bullpen and an approximate 85-pitch plateau appears to be as low as Toronto is willing to go.

Farrell has mentioned in the past he is contemplating going to a six-man rotation, but that will not happen at least for the foreseeable future. With left-hander J.A. Happ transitioning from the bullpen, the club doesn't want to take a reliever out of the bullpen to accommodate an extra starter.

"At this point, no," Farrell said of the six-man rotation. "In combination with getting Brandon to 85 pitches, we're still getting J.A. stretched out as well. Having two of those guys at the same time is challenging."

Morrow hasn't pitched for the Blue Jays since straining his left oblique muscle on June 11. He is 7-3 with a 3.01 ERA and three shutouts while striking out 67 in 77 2/3 innings.