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Hendricks expected to return, start Tuesday

Cubs line up rotation heading into All-Star break
@MLBastian
June 30, 2019

CINCINNATI -- The Cubs had opted to send Kyle Hendricks out on a Minor League rehab assignment, but the pitcher's recent bullpen sessions took the team in a different direction. Based on what Chicago's evaluators saw within Hendricks' recent mound workouts, the Cubs have decided that the right-hander will be

CINCINNATI -- The Cubs had opted to send Kyle Hendricks out on a Minor League rehab assignment, but the pitcher's recent bullpen sessions took the team in a different direction.

Based on what Chicago's evaluators saw within Hendricks' recent mound workouts, the Cubs have decided that the right-hander will be able to be activated from the 10-day injured list on Tuesday for a start against the Pirates. Given that Hendricks' right shoulder issue has kept him out of games since June 14 against the Dodgers, the righty will be on a limited pitch count in Pittsburgh.

"The big thing for me is just his effort level in these bullpens," Cubs pitching coach Tommy Hottovy said. "You compare them to past effort levels, and we have all this pitch data. So I can tell how the ball's coming out, what the [velocity] looks like.

"And if he's doing all those things in a normal bullpen and he checks off all those boxes and all those things match up the way we want them to, it's great."

As things currently stand, the Cubs' planned rotation for the upcoming four-game series against the Pirates will include Adbert Alzolay (Monday), Hendricks (Tuesday), Yu Darvish (Wednesday) and Jose Quintana (Thursday). Barring anything unexpected, that means that Jon Lester and Hendricks would then be lined up to start on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, against the White Sox before the All-Star break.

Hendricks has gone 7-5 with a 3.36 ERA in 14 starts this season, but the righty was 6-1 with a 2.57 ERA in his nine outings leading up to the trip to the IL.

Hendricks, who completed a full bullpen session (around 45 pitches) on Saturday, will probably be held to between 60-75 pitches (75 at the most, per manager Joe Maddon) in Tuesday's start. The Cubs will more than likely have Tyler Chatwood, Brad Brach or Mike Montgomery available behind him for multi-inning relief.

"You don't want to get greedy on their first time back," Maddon said. "You keep an open mind, but you definitely have parameters."

Worth noting

• Following Saturday's 6-0 win over the Reds, Cubs reliever Pedro Strop called Cincinnati's Yasiel Puig "stupid" in the wake of a benches-clearing episode. Strop hit Puig with a 3-0 pitch in the eighth, and Puig had to be held back by teammates. On Sunday morning, Maddon admitted that he chuckled when he saw Strop's comments.

"That was new," Maddon said. "I'm sure a lot of folks found that entertaining. You'd have to ask Pedro to comment further on that. I thought it was a little bit out of character for him, but nevertheless, I've always encouraged my guys to speak their mind."

• Maddon stuck to his word and gave All-Star shortstop Javier Baez a day off from starting on Sunday in Cincinnati. Baez was available off the bench, but the manager wanted to build in some rest given the Cubs' lack of off-days in June and considering that the shortstop will be taking part in the All-Star Game presented by Mastercard.

"He needs a day. And that was important," Maddon said. "So he's going to go do the All-Star thing, and it's going to be very busy for him also. Our schedule has been void of days off."

• Right-hander Carl Edwards Jr. (10-day IL, left thoracic strain) left the Cubs on Sunday in order to travel to Texas to join Triple-A Iowa for a Minor League rehab assignment. Edwards' first rehab outing is slated for Monday against San Antonio.

Jordan Bastian covers the Cubs for MLB.com. He previously covered the Indians from 2011-18 and the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian.