Cedeno will miss start of regular season
Hendricks continues working on curveball; Maddon holds back vs. rival
PHOENIX -- The Cubs signed reliever Xavier Cedeño around the start of Spring Training as insurance should the injury bug bite their bullpen during the Cactus League season. Unfortunately, Cedeno is the one who is injured, and manager Joe Maddon confirmed Sunday that the lefty is not going to be ready for the start of the season.
Cedeno’s sprained left wrist has prevented him from appearing in any Cactus League games. The Cubs signed Cedeno to a one-year, $900,000 Major League contract with incentives, but the deal was nonguaranteed, which means Cedeno, if healthy, could have been released prior to Opening Day and owed only termination pay had things not worked out. Because Cedeno will have to open the season on the injured list, his deal will become guaranteed.
Cedeno is still a week to 10 days away from picking up a baseball again and won’t have enough time to get built up to be ready for Opening Day on March 28.
Cedeno, 32, appeared in 48 games between stints with the White Sox and Brewers last season, posting a 2.43 ERA and 1.26 WHIP. He also pitched for the Astros, Nationals and Rays from 2011-17, with a career ERA of 3.69 over 175 2/3 innings.
With closer Brandon Morrow out for the first month of the season due to elbow surgery, Cedeno had joined Brad Brach and Tony Barnette as the Cubs’ external acquisitions for the relief corps.
Hendricks keeps throwing curve
When Kyle Hendricks said earlier this spring that he wants to use his curveball more this year, he meant it. The curve was on display again in his latest spring tuneup against the Brewers at American Family Fields of Phoenix. In three innings, Hendricks gave up three runs on five hits with a walk and four strikeouts in the Cubs’ 7-5 loss. More meaningfully, he threw the curve roughly eight times.
“They were all good, to be honest,” Hendricks said.
Hendricks is focused on gaining confidence with the pitch and to see how hitters react to it.
“And when I get some good ones,” he said, “it just makes me want to throw it more.”
The Cubs’ new Pitch Lab is not an influence on Hendricks’ curve yet.
“That might be a step further down the road,” he said. “I’m really just trying to feel it. I know it spins good, and there’s not really a different grip I would use. It’s just finding the right spots and trusting myself to use it.”
• Alec Mills, who was scratched from a split-squad start Saturday with a back issue, remained day to day and the injury is not considered serious. Mills missed most of 2017 with a forearm bruise and is trying to work his way into the Cubs’ pitching plans.
“This guy is doing so well,” said Maddon. “I just want to see this guy make a nice run of health and see what he does.”
• Speaking of Mills, the Cubs have reacquired the player they traded to acquire Mills in 2017. Outfielder Donnie Dewees was acquired in a minor trade for right-handed pitcher Stephan Riddings. Dewees was a second-round Draft pick in 2015 and batted .258 with a .692 OPS between Double-A and Triple-A last year.
• Sunday’s game at American Family Fields of Phoenix was the Cubs’ second against the Brewers this spring. Maddon said there is value in holding back certain elements of the Cubs’ offensive and defensive approach against a division rival.
“We’ve had some opportunities [against other teams] so far to try to hit and runs and the safety squeeze and delayed steals, stuff like that,” Maddon said. “I prefer to do that against an American League team or at least somebody that’s not in our division.”
The Cubs will have their first off-day of the Cactus League slate Monday. On Tuesday, they’ll return to action with a 9:05 p.m. CT home date with the Reds at Sloan Park. Tyler Chatwood will get the start, and Mike Montgomery will make his first Cactus appearance.