ST. LOUIS - It's been more than a week since Pedro Strop deemed himself "ready to go" in his recovery from a hamstring injury and he's made a pair of minor-league rehab appearances, but the Cubs still don't have return date for their relief ace.
Strop threw for Triple-A Iowa Tuesday and Thursday, needing only 13 total pitches to record six outs combined between the two days. All but one of those pitches went for strikes.
However, the Cubs are still taking things slowly with Strop after his third separate hamstring injury in the last eight months. He last pitched in a game in Chicago on May 6, when he failed to record an out while getting saddled with the loss to the Miami Marlins.
With Strop throwing Thursday, he was due for a day off Friday, so he wouldn't have been available for the Cubs in St. Louis anyways.
Will he return for Saturday's game against the Cardinals or will the Cubs continue to play it safe?
"He's doing really well," Joe Maddon said before Friday's game. "I haven't heard from the front office yet regarding the exact due date. He's ready to go, obviously. I'm just waiting to hear from the guys exactly how they want to work it, so I don't have anything new to report yet except that I know he's doing really well."
Maddon said he's been texting with Strop and the veteran right-hander has said he's feeling great.
Prior to that rough outing against the Marlins in which he admitted his hamstring played a factor, Strop had a 2.53 ERA and 4 saves while serving as the Cubs' closer. In his absence, Steve Cishek has gone 4-for-6 in save chances, but the Cubs could certainly use Strop's presence in a bullpen that has had a tough last couple of weeks.
But the Cubs are also in the midst of a stretch where they play 34 games in the next 35 days and they don't want to be too aggressive it with Strop, who turns 34 in two weeks. Hamstrings are particularly fickle and injuries often recur.
"As you're bringing him back, you don't want to push him too quickly, either," Maddon said. "We're making good progress — he's looking good, he's feeling good. As you get closer to the finish line, don't mess it up."