Notes: Hendricks throws live BP; Ross on DH

March 15th, 2022

MESA, Ariz. -- As soon as baseball's lockout ended last week, Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks expected to hear from pitching coach Tommy Hottovy immediately. Hottovy had other things to tend to before he touched base with the long-time rotation leader.

"I was expecting five minutes," Hendricks quipped. "I put a five-minute timer. I was waiting. It took him like an hour. A solid hour or two. I go, 'You're off your game, man. You're off your game.' We'll get back on it, though."

They were back on it on Monday, when Hottovy was behind an L-screen to the right of the mound on Field 1, watching Hendricks work through a live batting practice session. The veteran right-hander logged around 15 pitches against Sergio Alcántara, Frank Schwindel and Patrick Wisdom.

It was a quick throwing session and Hendricks said he made sure he took a deliberate approach. Even with less than a month before the April 7 regular-season opener, Hendricks knows the importance of prioritizing health and readiness over volume.

"We know it's going to be quick," Hendricks said. "But we can't take that approach mentally. Take our time. Do what we need to do. Don't risk injury. At least we're playing a full season, 162, and our focus is on where we're going to be at the end."

The 32-year-old Hendricks said he can lean on his experience from 2020, when players dealt with the abbreviated Summer Camp before the 60-game season. In that instance, he logged a 103-pitch, three-hit shutout against the Brewers in the July 24 season opener.

"I don't know if I can promise that," Hendricks said with a laugh. "I don't think I'm quite in that kind of shape. That was midseason almost by then. So, no, we only have a couple weeks. We're going to try to get the pitch count up and see where we're at. We're going to have to rely on a lot of guys. That's how it's going to be."

Ross' take on the DH
The way manager David Ross sees things going, the Cubs will have a revolving door in the designated hitter role this season. Ross will want to mix and match players in that slot based on matchups, rest or other factors.

"It gives us some more flexibility, right?" Ross said. "I'm sure that'll be an ever-changing spot of who's swinging the bat well and who needs rest."

Ross noted that outfielder Ian Happ, who is working his way back from a right elbow issue, could be used as a DH early in the season. Catchers Willson Contreras and Yan Gomes could also see time at DH this season to have them both in the lineup when it makes sense.

Worth noting

• After Hendricks completed his mound workout, lefty Justin Steele threw around 25 pitches in a live BP session against Contreras, Wisdom, Schwindel and Alcántara.

"He looked good. Everybody looked good," Ross said. "I was bouncing back and forth. I caught the back end of Steele's [workout], but I heard the velocity was there. That looked good. The breaking ball was sharp."

• Marquee Sports Network will air 17 Spring Training games this preseason, with the exception of two games (March 20 against the Dodgers and March 22 against the Mariners) on MLB Network. For the two split-squad days, Marquee will air Thursday's home game against the White Sox and the April 1 game on the road against the Brewers.

• New Cubs starter Marcus Stroman posted on his Twitter account that he will make his Chicago debut on Friday against the Giants in Scottsdale, Ariz.

• Ross noted that outfielder Harold Ramírez and lefty Brailyn Márquez have not yet reported to camp due to travel complications.

"Stro, the first day he showed up, half the Minor League camp came in to take photos with him for social media. He's got that 'it' factor when he walks in a room. He's got that presence. The smile, the energy he brings already." -- Ross, on Stroman