Pedro Strop’s slow start with calf injury puts him right on time for Cubs’ plan

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Pedro Strop

MESA, Ariz. — Cubs reliever Pedro Strop, one of the Cubs’ top setup men, isn’t concerned about being ready for the start of the season after much of his spring work has been delayed by a sore left calf.

“I only need three innings [in games],” he said. “Maybe four.”

If he’s exaggerating, it’s not by much. The Cubs don’t plan to burden the top relievers with a lot of work this spring, anticipating another deep October run.

“I’m almost there,” Strop said. “It was just soreness, and it’s already gone. It’s going to be soon [that I pitch in a game]. We’re just being careful, and we’ve got time, so we’re trying not to rush it.”

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Justin Grimm made his spring debut in the Cubs’ 10th Cactus League game Sunday. Closer Brandon Morrow, who had a heavy playoff workload last fall with the Dodgers, doesn’t debut until Tuesday, with the plan being to have him work no more than six games.

Super Tuesday

The Cubs’ home game against the Dodgers on Tuesday should be one of the most watched of the spring, with $126 million newcomer Yu Darvish making his Cubs debut against his old team.

The Cubs also expect veteran infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist to make his spring debut in that game. Zobrist opened camp with a sore back and has been on a slow and cautious program since.

Bote catching Maddon’s eye

Versatile minor-league All-Star Davie Bote made an impression on manager Joe Maddon.

He has taken advantage of extra playing time with Kris Bryant ailing for much of last week by starting 5-for-13 with a walk and a triple, and a pair of highlight-reel plays at third, before going hitless in his last three appearances.

“He’s an absolute perfect example of an under-the-radar guy,” Maddon said. “I didn’t know he could play third base that well. I didn’t know his arm was that good. He’s primarily a second baseman. I’d heard a lot of good things about that. When [special assistant] David Ross was in town, David picked up on him very fast.

“On top of all that, if you say ‘David Bote’ really quickly, it sounds like David Bowie. So I’m really encouraging him to utilize ‘Rebel Rebel’ as his walk-up music.”

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