MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs have decided to carry eight relievers when they begin the regular season but haven't announced the final group because they're still waiting to see if Pedro Strop will be ready.Strop, who was slowed this spring because of a left calf strain, made his first Cactus
MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs have decided to carry eight relievers when they begin the regular season but haven't announced the final group because they're still waiting to see if Pedro Strop will be ready.
Strop, who was slowed this spring because of a left calf strain, made his first Cactus League appearance on Thursday night against the Giants and retired the side. He was expected to get at least two more appearances in exhibition games before the season starts next Thursday against the Marlins.
"We're waiting on that," manager Joe Maddon said on Friday about Strop's health. "We have a couple more times out before we have to decide. He looked outstanding."
The relievers who are set include closer Brandon Morrow, Steve Cishek, Brian Duensing, C.J. Edwards, Mike Montgomery and Justin Wilson. If Strop is healthy, there's only one opening.
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The other pitchers in camp who are options for the bullpen include Eddie Butler, Justin Hancock, Anthony Bass, Kyle Ryan and Shae Simmons, who has been injured and only pitched 3 2/3 innings. Butler, who will start one of Saturday's split-squad games, is out of options, while Hancock, Bass and Ryan are non-roster invitees.
The Cubs optioned lefty Randy Rosario, who was another candidate, to Triple-A Iowa on Friday.
With the decision to carry eight relievers, the Cubs' position-player situation is set with the exception of who will be the backup catcher to Willson Contreras. It's down to Victor Caratini and Chris Gimenez.
"We kind of know what we're doing and we haven't spoken to everybody yet," Maddon said about the catcher situation.
Maddon is a big believer in development, and Caratini, the organization's No. 8 prospect per MLB Pipeline, may be sent to Iowa to get regular playing time. Gimenez, who played for Maddon and pitching coach Jim Hickey in Tampa Bay, has experience.
The Cubs didn't have room for Peter Bourjos, so they will release the outfielder to give him a chance to find another team.
Bourjos hit an RBI single in the fifth inning in Friday's 4-3 win over the Brewers at Sloan Park and ran to first but was pulled from the game by Maddon. The team announced that Bourjos had a minor cramp in his left calf and was removed as a precautionary measure.
A source later confirmed a report that Bourjos would be released. Bourjos, who turns 31 on March 31, is a solid defensive outfielder and is batting .326 this spring.
Chatwood closes out his Cactus League slate
Tyler Chatwood is ready for the regular season to begin.
"I felt good with everything and I got a hit, so the season can start now," Chatwood said after giving up two runs over 5 2/3 innings on Friday.
Chatwood added an RBI double in the fifth. The Cubs are a little more focused on his pitching.
"My changeup was really good again today, my cutter came around when I needed it to," Chatwood said. "My curveball had good shape to it, so I feel good, I feel ready. I think I have one more start here. I'll throw in a Minor League game here, but overall, I feel ready for the season to start."
Chatwood will skip the Cubs' last two exhibition games in Florida and get one more outing in Arizona before joining the team in Miami for Opening Day.
Backup closer options
If Morrow isn't available in a game, who will fill in? Maddon said it will depend on the matchup.
"Whenever Brandon's not available, it's not going to be, 'It's your turn tonight and you're the closer,'" Maddon said. "I'm not going to pass up a moment in the seventh or eighth inning that's hyper-critical to save somebody for the ninth inning. I'm not going to do that.
"There's no 'B' or '1A.' It's all hands on deck. We'll try to get through those last three outs. They all can do it."
Minor Leaguer suspended
Right-hander David Garner was suspended for violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, according to the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball.
Garner, who was on the Triple-A roster and recorded a save for the Cubs this spring, has received a 50-game suspension without pay following a second positive test for a drug of abuse in violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
The suspension will be effective at the beginning of his 2018 season.
Pace of play
Maddon and Giants manager Bruce Bochy each had long conversations between innings with the umpire crew on Thursday night. The topic: mound visits and trying to understand what constitutes one or not.
"It's all the nuance," Maddon said. "This is 2018. Maybe by 2020 -- literally utilizing 20-20 as the moment it becomes clear."
Maddon on the mend
Maddon had a sore right leg after he fell in the dugout at Scottsdale Stadium on Thursday night.
"I totally did a split, which I've never done, even when I was a high school cheerleader I never did that," Maddon said. "I did a full split, pop, and then I'm down there thinking, 'OK, when I get up there will be a big divot,' but it wasn't, it was extremely sore. I just have to be careful in the next couple of days."
An avid bike rider, Maddon said he was going to stay off his bike on Friday. The pain was so bad, he could barely lift his right leg on Thursday.
On Saturday, the Cubs will play split-squad games, including their final contest of 2018 at Sloan Park. Montgomery will face the Rockies in Mesa (9:05 p.m. CT), while Butler starts against the Mariners in Peoria (8:40 p.m. CT). Both games can be watched live on MLB.TV.
Jonathan Lester is scheduled to pitch in a Minor League game on Saturday in his final tune-up before Opening Day.
The Cubs close the Arizona portion of their exhibition season on Sunday, when Kyle Hendricks starts against the Royals in Surprise, Ariz. The Cubs then play two games in Fort Myers, Fla., against the Red Sox -- Yu Darvish will start Monday and Jose Quintana will go Tuesday -- before the regular-season opener on Thursday against the Marlins.
The Cubs only have two more days in Arizona, and that's not enough for Maddon.
"I like to fine-tune," Maddon said. "We got our work done, but not to the level I want it to be done. We're hoping to get some more field time in Fort Myers. I love the slow dance of Spring Training, and the point is to get your stuff in place, and I don't want to leave here unless I feel good about it."
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.