Maddon ponders closer

AP Photo Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Pedro Strop has a strained right hamstring, eliminating the likely candidate to close at the start of the season as Brandon Morrow recovers from elbow surgery.

MESA, Ariz. (AP) — Chicago Cubs reliever Pedro Strop has a strained right hamstring, eliminating the likely candidate to close at the start of the season as Brandon Morrow recovers from elbow surgery.

Strop, a 33-year-old right-hander, felt a hamstring issue on his last pitch on Saturday against the Los Angeles Angels, his second appearance of spring training. An MRI on Monday revealed a mild strain. The Cubs said Strop is able to play catch but will not participate in game-related drills during the next week.

“The trainers are very optimistic,” Chicago manager Joe Maddon said Wednesday. “He’s still able to throw at a great distance. Whenever you’re able to keep your arm working, that matters.”

Morrow, a 34-year-old right-hander, had arthroscopic surgery on Nov. 6. He did not pitch last season after July 15.

If Strop isn’t available to close, the Cubs’ options include Steve Cishek, Carl Edwards Jr. and Brad Brach.

“We’re discussing different methods,” Maddon said. “I couldn’t begin to tell you what will happen.”

Edwards had a 2.60 ERA in 58 games last season. Maddon said there are times when he may want to use the right-hander earlier in games.

“This guy has closer stuff,” Maddon said, also pointing out “he’s so good at shutting something down in the seventh or eighth, and I would not run away from that.”

NOTES: LHP Jon Lester was picked to start his third straight opener, at Texas on March 28. Maddon said he does not yet have a rotation order. … INF Daniel Descalso is day to day after he jammed his left shoulder on Saturday.

MARTINEZ UPDATE

St. Louis pitcher Carlos Martinez will begin the season on the injured list as the two-time All-Star tries to work his way back from shoulder weakness.

WHITE SOX PLANS

Chicago optioned top prospect Eloy Jimenez to Triple-A Charlotte in a widely anticipated move. By keeping Jimenez in the minors for 20 days, the optional assignment will count and Jimenez would not be eligible for free agency until after the 2025 season.

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