Cubs Insider

Strop on return to mound for Cubs: ‘I got goosebumps’

Cubs Insider

MILWAUKEE — Heading off the field after throwing with teammates before Tuesday’s game, Cubs reliever Pedro Strop spotted a familiar face, smiled broadly and said, “I am back.”

A few hours later, he was the winning pitcher in the Cubs’ 3-2 victory over the Brewers in his first appearance with the Cubs in two seasons —  scoreless seventh inning that included an infield single and a strikeout.

“It feels amazing,” said Strop, who was activated as a replacement player from the taxi squad when the Cubs put three relievers on the COVID-19 injured list Monday. “When I was jogging to the mound I got some goosebumps. It’s been a long time since I got that kind of feeling.

“It’s always special to wear that uniform.”

Strop, 35, had a 2.90 ERA for the Cubs during six-plus seasons before leaving as a free agent after the 2019 season.

He signed with the Reds but finished last season at the Cubs’ alternate site following his release, then re-signed with the Cubs on a minor-league deal during spring training,

“I’m super happy for him,” said manager David Ross, the Cubs’ backup catcher in 2015 and ’16. “He’s a guy I trust personally because I’ve seen him in the moments.

“He came in and looked just like vintage Stropy,” Ross added, praising Strop’s poise after an infield hit and two-out walk, to change the signs with the runner at second, then get the inning-ending strikeout. “That’s a guy I like to have on our side.”

 

The Cubs’ bullpen combined for five scoreless innings in the comeback win, including a four-out save by Craig Kimbrel.

But this night belonged to Strop as much as it did anyone else by the time the Cubs snapped a three-game losing streak on a day they added a fourth player to the COVID-19 IL — then pulled ace Kyle Hendricks from his scheduled start 20 minutes before the game because he felt “under the weather.”

Hendricks tested negative and is to be evaluated over the next few days to determine when he might start next.

“It’s been really stressful, especially today when a couple minutes before the game [they said] our pitcher cannot pitch because he’s feeling sick,” Strop. “Good thing that we’ve been doing what we’ve been doing — just mainly staying focused and playing games and let the doctors and the protocols take care of the rest.

“We’re going to just keep fighting here.”

Strop found himself in line for his first win since July 19, 2019, when Willson Contreras delivered a two-run, go-ahead homer in the eighth to silence a chorus of boos at the Milwaukee ballpark.

Will his stay on the roster be temporary? He was not required to be added to the 40-man because of the circumstances.

Or will he be around long term for more chances to pitch like Tuesday night?

“I’m here right now. I’m not thinking about what’s going to happen,” he said.

“I’m just enjoying the moment and enjoying every second that I’m here.”

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