By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) The news wasn’t all positive at Wrigley Field on Thursday.
Despite a 15-game lead in the NL Central, the Cubs got some somber feedback from the training staff in that reliever Pedro Strop had a setback in his rehab from from surgery to repair a left meniscus tear. Strop’s knee is coming along fine, but he suffered a right groin strain in throwing drills Wednesday and will be held out of all baseball activity for at least one week.
The Cubs still expect Strop back by the third week of September and for him to be ready for the playoffs. Strop had been recovering well and was on the verge of heading out for a rehab assignment.
The 31-year-old Strop has a 2.89 ERA and 0.89 WHIP this season in 50 appearances. He’s struck out 56 batters in 43 2/3 innings.
The news was better for starter John Lackey (shoulder stiffness) and setup man Hector Rondon (strained triceps). Lackey threw a side session Thursday and is expected to come off of the disable list Sunday and pitch the final game of the series against the Giants.
“I feel fine,” Lackey said after his bullpen session. “I feel like I can pitch in a game. You obviously want to be in there and help the guys. It was something I needed to help get this shoulder fixed. Hopefully in the long run, it will be something positive.”
Lackey left his Aug. 14 start with stiffness in his throwing shoulder. At the time of his injury, he was fourth in the NL in innings pitched at 158 1/3.
Rondon is scheduled to pitch for Triple-A Iowa on Saturday and Monday. If all goes well in his bullpen appearances, he’ll then return for Chicago’s series at Milwaukee.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon admitted that even with a big divisional lead,the bullpen is the one area that concerns him the most on a daily basis. Entering play Thursday, Maddon had used closer Aroldis Chapman for three consecutive days, including for 31 pitches Wednesday night to finish off a save in a win against the Pirates.
Maddon will rest Chapman on Thursday and perhaps Friday too.
“I definitely want to take care of him,” Maddon said. “I honestly think we have done OK with that to this point. That was three in a row for him last night. Some of this has been based on our inability to hold 5-0 leads a couple of times. He is definitely off tonight. It’s possibly two days with him.”
Justin Grimm and Carl Edwards are the relievers getting more important late-game innings,with Rondon and Strop out.
“We want to keep Aroldis as fresh as possible, and that is with us expecting to get Rondon and Strop back,” Maddon said.
Rondon, the team’s former closer, will be used in some save opportunities heading down the stretch to help keep Chapman fresh, Maddon said.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.