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Fans tease Hendricks after first spring start

Cubs faithful have not forgotten World Series Game 7
MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

MESA, Ariz. -- Even though starting pitchers rarely go past two innings in their first Spring Training outings, Cubs fans razzed Kyle Hendricks a little Saturday when he was lifted after two in the Cubs' 9-3 win over the Dodgers. The fans haven't forgotten Game 7 of the World Series, as the right-hander is reminded nearly every day.

Hendricks started Game 7 against the Indians, and was pulled after he walked Carlos Santana with two outs in the fifth. Chicago had a 5-1 lead at that point and Hendricks appeared to be in command. Manager Joe Maddon made the move and called on Jon Lester. Cleveland scored two runs in the fifth, and eventually tied the game with a three-run eighth. As Cubs fans know, the team rallied in the 10th to win their first World Series championship since 1908. That doesn't mean they like Maddon pulling Hendricks when he did.

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MESA, Ariz. -- Even though starting pitchers rarely go past two innings in their first Spring Training outings, Cubs fans razzed Kyle Hendricks a little Saturday when he was lifted after two in the Cubs' 9-3 win over the Dodgers. The fans haven't forgotten Game 7 of the World Series, as the right-hander is reminded nearly every day.

Hendricks started Game 7 against the Indians, and was pulled after he walked Carlos Santana with two outs in the fifth. Chicago had a 5-1 lead at that point and Hendricks appeared to be in command. Manager Joe Maddon made the move and called on Jon Lester. Cleveland scored two runs in the fifth, and eventually tied the game with a three-run eighth. As Cubs fans know, the team rallied in the 10th to win their first World Series championship since 1908. That doesn't mean they like Maddon pulling Hendricks when he did.

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"I've heard that once or twice -- pretty much everybody I run into, that's one of the first things they say," Hendricks said after his first spring outing Saturday. "I say, 'Hey, we won, right?' That's all that matters. I tell them I was expecting it to be a short start going into it, which I was. You guys have heard it before. To hear it from fans sometimes it gives you reassurance."

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He just didn't expect to hear it Saturday after being lifted following his two innings against the Dodgers.

"They were yelling it still. It hasn't stopped," Hendricks said. "They were, 'Why'd they take you out? I don't get it.'"

Hendricks just laughs.

"It's diehards," he said. "You never know what to expect out of them."

The Cubs' expectations for the right-hander haven't changed since last season, even though he did lead the Major Leagues with a 2.13 ERA. Hendricks entered last spring battling for a spot in the rotation. This year, he's guaranteed a place, but is taking the same approach he did in 2016.

"I knew the coaching staff had confidence in me but I also knew I had to prove myself," he said of last season. "I had to come into spring and be ready and show what I could do. This year, it's not necessarily the same, but I have the same mindset. It works for me. I've always been a guy who has to throw a little more to make sure I'm ready for day one. The situation may have changed a little, bit but in my mind I'm still just getting ready the same way, being ready for the first day."

Hendricks threw 16 pitches -- eight each inning -- and gave up one hit, a leadoff single to Kiké Hernandez in the second. Hendricks then got Andrew Toles to hit into a double play on the first pitch and struck out Rob Segedin to end the inning.

His day wasn't done as Hendricks went to the bullpen to throw 40 more pitches. That's when the fans started to razz him.

"It's all good," Hendricks said.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.

Chicago Cubs, Kyle Hendricks