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Returning from DL, Hendricks to start Monday

2016 MLB ERA leader back to face White Sox
MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

CHICAGO -- Kyle Hendricks, who has been on the disabled list since June 5, will return to the Cubs' rotation on Monday and open a home-and-home Interleague series against the crosstown White Sox.

Hendricks, sidelined with inflammation in his right hand, will open the four-game series at Wrigley Field and be followed by John Lackey on Tuesday. When the series shifts to Guaranteed Rate Field, Jake Arrieta will start on Wednesday and Jon Lester on Thursday.

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CHICAGO -- Kyle Hendricks, who has been on the disabled list since June 5, will return to the Cubs' rotation on Monday and open a home-and-home Interleague series against the crosstown White Sox.

Hendricks, sidelined with inflammation in his right hand, will open the four-game series at Wrigley Field and be followed by John Lackey on Tuesday. When the series shifts to Guaranteed Rate Field, Jake Arrieta will start on Wednesday and Jon Lester on Thursday.

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Hendricks, who led the Major Leagues with a 2.13 ERA last year, has not pitched since June 4, when he went four innings against the Cardinals. With Hendricks' return, left-hander Mike Montgomery now goes to the bullpen.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon talked to Montgomery on Saturday and said the lefty accepted the switch.

"He gets it, and he's very valuable to us," Maddon said of the hurler, who was 2-3 with a 5.13 ERA in eight starts and compiled a 2.50 ERA in 19 relief appearances.

• The Cubs added another reliever to the mix, recalling right-hander Felix Pena from Triple-A Iowa and optioning infielder Tommy La Stella to the Minor League team. Maddon said Chicago wanted another arm after Friday's game in which Carl Edwards Jr., Pedro Strop, Hector Rondon and Justin Grimm were all needed in the Cardinals' nine-run eighth inning.

"We just felt we needed one more arm out there," Maddon said.

Pena has appeared in 10 games with the Cubs this season.

• Fans may be frustrated with Javier Baez's strikeout rate, but Maddon said he sees the infielder making progress at the plate.

"In spite of the [golfer] John Daly hack on occasion, you look at his two-strike numbers, and his two-strike numbers are outstanding," Maddon said of Baez, who entered Saturday batting .227 with two strikes.

"I think two years from now -- next year, you'll see an improvement, and the next year [2019], you'll see a really nice finished product," Maddon said.

• The National League Central is one of the tightest divisions this season, with four teams -- the Brewers, Cubs, Pirates and Cardinals -- within 3 1/2 games of each other.

"I don't think it's going to part," Maddon said. "Pittsburgh is playing really well right now. Pittsburgh has been re-energized. They got [Starling] Marte back. If they pitch well, they'll stay in it. They have a really good team on the field. The Cardinals, we saw last night the fight they have.

"Nobody's going away. I believe it will be an interesting battle the rest of the season. I like the challenge. I don't think anybody is going to run away with anything right now."

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