Cubs notebook: The roster moves continue and the end of an era
The day after making a bunch of injured list moves, the Cubs did some more roster maneuvering ahead of Wednesday night’s series finale with the Dodgers.
They activated Tyson Miller off the COVID-19 list and the young pitcher will head to Arizona to build up for the season before joining Triple-A Iowa. To clear room on the 40-man roster, veteran catcher Austin Romine was transferred to the 60-day IL.
Romine landed on the shelf last week with a wrist injury that will keep him out of baseball action for the next few weeks. He missed the start of the season with a knee sprain.
The Cubs also bid farewell to veteran reliever Pedro Strop, as he elected free agency. The split was amicable and the Cubs have maintained for years that they hope he can return to the organization in some capacity, including in a front office or coaching role when he’s done playing.
“I wish Stroppy the best,” David Ross said. “It was nice to have him around. He puts a smile on my face. From the day I first met him, coming over here in 2015, he’s a guy you walk into the locker room and he’s electric, man. His personality lights up a room. He’s a fun guy to be around. He’s a very talented pitcher.
“I’m very thankful for a lot of things that Pedro has brought into my life and our friendship. I hope at some point we reconnect. It was nice to connect with him now and I hope he’s doing well at home.”
Strop — who turns 36 next month — returned to the Cubs late last season and then inked a minor league deal with an invite to spring training over the winter. He appeared in 2 games this season as a COVID replacement, tossing 2 shutout innings and claiming a win.
From 2013-19, Strop was one of the most reliable setup men in the game and stepped into the closer’s role for a time toward the end of his Chicago tenure. He has appeared in 413 games with the Cubs, posting a 2.88 ERA with 29 saves and 120 holds.
Ian Happ (ribs) remained out of Wednesday’s lineup after Sunday’s scary collision with Nico Hoerner in Cincinnati. But he is available off the bench.
“He was available [Tuesday] night,” Ross said. “He took some swings underneath. He’ll probably be the last guy [off the bench]. Want to give him rest if we can. But he is available.”
Anthony Rizzo was also not in the lineup, with Kris Bryant moving over to play first base. The Cubs have an off-day Thursday and Ross wanted to give his All-Star slugger two days in a row off.
Rizzo will also have a breather next week as the Cubs are off both Monday and Thursday, sandwiching a quick two-game series in Cleveland.
The surplus of off-days comes at a good time for the Cubs as they deal with all the injuries. Hoerner could return as soon as the first game in Detroit (May 14) and Jake Arrieta is also targeting that as his return date.
That means Arrieta is only missing one turn through the rotation with the abrasion on his pitching hand.
“With the off days, it gives me extra time to obviously get this thing back to 100% and only miss one go-around,” Arrieta said.
He tried to throw a bullpen Monday but wasn’t able to apply the necessary pressure on his grip and ultimately decided to take it easy and give the cut time to heal.
During his last start in Cincinnati on Friday, Arrieta allowed 7 runs over 3.1 innings.
“I didn’t wanna miss a start, but really if I were to go out there today and reopen it or aggravate it further, then it just sets us back to where we were several days ago,” Arrieta said. “I mean, the start in Cincinnati was rough. I tried to battle it out. I was adjusting the way I threw, pretty much everything.
“It’s the right way to go, miss one and be back out there first game in Detroit.”