MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs' Kyle Hendricks did not start in a Minor League game on Tuesday because he's been battling strep throat but he was able to throw 105 pitches over seven simulated innings in the bullpen instead.Tuesday was an off day for the rest of the team, and
MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs' Kyle Hendricks did not start in a Minor League game on Tuesday because he's been battling strep throat but he was able to throw 105 pitches over seven simulated innings in the bullpen instead.
Tuesday was an off day for the rest of the team, and Hendricks was scheduled to face Minor League players to stay on track. Instead, he got his work done on the side. He will follow Jonathan Lester in the Cubs' second game of the regular season on March 30 against the Marlins.
In four starts so far this spring, Hendricks has struck out 21 over 15 innings and not walked a batter.
• On Monday night, catcher Willson Contreras threw out two Reds baserunners, and Lester, who started, appreciated the effort.
"He's done it for all of us," Lester said of Contreras. "He's a really good defensive catcher and halfway decent hitter as well. He's still learning a new position and he's learning at the big league level. A lot of catchers have caught their whole lives. He's done a great job with the defensive side and the game calling. A young guy dealing with the staff, it's a hard thing to do."
Lester was joking about Contreras' hitting ability. The catcher has hit four home runs in nine games, and he is batting .321 (9-for-28) this spring.
• Injury updates: Reliever Pedro Strop, who has been slowed because of a tender left calf, pitched in a Minor League game on Monday. He was expected to get in three more games before the regular season begins.
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• Camp battle: There could be one spot open in the Cubs' bullpen if the team decides to carry eight relievers, and three of the candidates appeared in the 5-4 win over the Reds on Monday night. Justin Hancock entered with two outs in the seventh and retired the only batter he faced. Anthony Bass made his first appearance since March 5 after being sidelined with a strained right lat, and he gave up one run on three hits over two-thirds of an inning.
Kyle Ryan picked up the save, striking out one in 1 1/3 innings.
Hancock, Bass and Ryan are all non-roster invitees in Cubs camp.
• Up next: On Wednesday, Yu Darvish will face his former team, the Rangers, in Surprise, Ariz. It will be Darvish's fourth spring start. So far, he's struck out 13 over 10 1/3 innings while walking four.
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.