Strop sent to makeshift beach at his locker

After saving thrilling win Saturday, Cubs reliever given day off in humorous fashion

Strop sent to makeshift beach at his locker

CHICAGO -- After Saturday's game, Cubs manager Joe Maddon said reliever Pedro Strop could take Sunday off and enjoy a day at the beach. When Strop walked into the clubhouse Sunday, he saw that Maddon wasn't kidding.

In front of Strop's locker was a plastic chaise set in a small blue swimming pool filled with sand. There was suntan lotion and a margarita-type drink with an umbrella waiting for Strop, although teammate Hector Rondon added a bucket of Presidente beers. Someone else draped some flower leis across the chair.

Cubs send Strop on a tropical vacation ... to his locker

"I wanted to make it emphatic that he was not playing today," Maddon said. "So, Strop is not available, he'll be at the beach."

There was reggae music playing in the clubhouse. Maddon got in the mood as well.

"I did listen to Jimmy Buffet on the way in," he said.

Strop has struggled against the Cardinals, especially at Busch Stadium, where he has given up seven runs in two innings over five outings. He has an 11.05 ERA in 11 games this season against St. Louis. However, on Saturday, the right-hander entered in the ninth after the Cardinals had scored two runs and had the tying run on base. He struck out Jhonny Peralta, got Yadier Molina to hit a sacrifice fly to make it 5-4 and then got Stephen Piscotty to ground out.

The problem in St. Louis, Maddon said, was pitch selection.

"What he did yesterday was spectacular -- that was not easy to do," Maddon said. "I think what he did [Saturday], that's the thing you're looking for moving forward to have him feel better pitching against this team."

Extra bases
• After warnings in the first two games of the Cubs vs. Cardinals series, Maddon was asked if he felt the umpires would say anything prior to Sunday's series finale.

"Would it surprise me? Knowing who's in charge of all this, it would surprise me that there would be a warning," said Maddon, referring to crew chief Tom Hallion.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny and pitcher Matt Belisle were ejected from Friday's game when Belisle hit Anthony Rizzo after warnings had been issued. On Saturday, Maddon and Rondon were tossed when the Cubs reliever hit pinch-hitter Greg Garcia in the ninth, again after warnings had been given.

• The Cubs and Cardinals put aside their differences to participate in Jason Motte's first Cornhole tournament on Saturday night to raise money to fight pediatric cancer. St. Louis' Randy Choate, Lance Lynn and Jon Jay joined their former teammate in the event, and played along with Cubs players Rizzo, Dan Haren, Miguel Montero, Trevor Cahill, Jake Arrieta, Travis Wood, Neil Ramirez, Jason Hammel, Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler and others.

Motte said one of the contestants had offered the chance to participate in the event to his dad as a Father's Day gift, or they could go watch the Green Bay Packers play. The father chose to be on Wrigley Field.

• The Cubs open their instructional league on Monday in Mesa, Ariz. Among the Minor League players who will take part are 2015 first-round Draft pick Ian Happ and No. 13 prospect Eloy Jimenez. This year, the Cubs will have an "advanced" group that will take part in games against other organizations, and that list includes shortstop and top prospect Gleyber Torres, catchers Victor Caratini and Cael Brockmeyer, outfielders Charcer Burks, Rashad Crawford and Shawon Dunston Jr., and pitchers Paul Blackburn, Tyler Skulina and Duane Underwood.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.