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Hendriks excited about Sunday start vs. Rays

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Right-hander Liam Hendriks, who is battling for a spot in the rotation, is excited about the opportunity to start the Hammond Stadium opener on Sunday, against the Rays.

Hendriks had a bone chip removed from his elbow in November but said that he's fully healthy and looking forward to progressing to pitching in games after throwing batting practice this week.

"It's pretty cool," Hendriks said. "When I was here last year, I relieved, like, the first three or four outings, so it's cool to get that start and get into my routine. It's going to be fun."

Hendriks fared well in Spring Training last year, posting a 2.84 ERA in eight games, including four starts. He made the rotation out of camp but missed his first start due to a bout with food poisoning.

He ended up struggling, though, with a 5.59 ERA in 16 starts despite success at Triple-A Rochester, where he recorded a 2.20 ERA in 16 outings. He's ready to move on and wants to see if his improved mechanics will translate in his first start.

"It feels good to actually get in there and throw against guys I haven't seen in a while," he said. "It's kind of a different feeling than live BP. It's game situations, so it'll be good. I'm excited for it and ready to see how everything is going."

After Hendriks, other pitchers scheduled to throw are closer Glen Perkins, Jared Burton, Brian Duensing, Kyle Gibson, Bryan Augenstein, Luis Perdomo, Anthony Slama and Deolis Guerra. Augenstein, Perdomo and Slama are also making the trip to Sarasota to play the Orioles on Saturday, so if they pitch in the Grapefruit League opener, they won't pitch on Sunday.