Efficient Hendricks could be ace on another club

March 10th, 2017

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Cubs right-hander was in midseason form Friday even though his Cubs squandered an eight-run lead in an 11-10 loss to the Mariners in Cactus League action at sold-out Peoria Stadium.

Making just his second start of the spring, Hendricks pitched three innings -- one batter above the minimum -- allowing only a two-out single in the second, while striking out four and walking none.

Hendricks threw 49 efficient pitches, 29 of them strikes, and manager Joe Maddon said next time out Hendricks will begin to stretch it out to 80 pitches.

The 27-year-old said there wasn't much in the outing to pick apart, aside from the timing at times he had getting the ball out of his glove, or falling behind hitters during the second inning.

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There's still some fine-tuning to do, but with another four starts to go this spring, Hendricks isn't about to look for any trouble.

"If there's nothing there, you can't be searching if there's nothing there," Hendricks said. "If everything is good and feels good to me, I'm taking it for what it is. I'm just moving forward, making sure my arm is in shape and getting ready for Opening Day."

Hendricks is ensconced in the No. 3 spot in the Cubs' rotation behind and . is right behind him, and and Mike Montgomery are battling it out for the fifth spot.

Hendricks, 16-8 last year with a 2.13 ERA -- the lowest in the Majors -- could be a No. 1 starter on most big league clubs, Maddon said.

"I don't know. It's hard to say. He definitely had that kind of year last year," Maddon said. "If he duplicates that, definitely. Even if he has a slight regression, which is probably going to happen based on what he did, it depends on the team."

Hendricks said he doesn't worry about any of that. After searching to find his depth as a pitcher in his three big league seasons, all with the Cubs, Hendricks said he's satisfied just where he is.

"You know, we have some pretty good guys over here," Hendricks said. "This is really where I want to be. It doesn't matter if I'm a No. 1 or 5. As long as I'm on a big league roster and get a chance to pitch big league games, I'm going to take it."