Hendricks excited for return from finger injury

Cubs RHP out since June 4, starts opener with White Sox

July 23rd, 2017

CHICAGO -- is eager to return to normal.

The Cubs right-hander will make his first start since June 4 on Monday, when he's activated from the disabled list and opens the Interleague series against the crosstown White Sox. Hendricks has been sidelined with inflammation in his right middle finger.

"I'm excited," Hendricks said Sunday. "Finally, I can feel some normalcy. I'm excited to get back out there and hopefully contribute to the roll we're on now."

It took two weeks for the pain to go away in Hendricks' hand, then another three weeks to build up arm strength. He made two rehab starts for Double-A Tennessee, throwing five perfect innings in his last outing.

Hendricks felt the most discomfort throwing his curve and also had some pain when he threw his sinker.

"Those two pitches are only coming off the middle finger there," Hendricks said. "The changeup, I didn't feel it at all, and the four-seam, it was minimal."

He will probably cut back on the number of pitches he throws during his side sessions to avoid a recurrence.

"The volume will go down in my bullpens, but pitch-wise, everything will be the same," he said.

Getting in a trade with the White Sox and now Hendricks off the disabled list gives the Cubs two starters heading into the final 2 1/2 months of the season.

"With Jose in Baltimore, you could definitely feel a difference in attitude," manager Joe Maddon said of Quintana's first start with the Cubs. "I think you'll feel that [when Hendricks returns]."

Hendricks said he wished the injury was to another finger. He's had to endure his share of teasing and joked that the problem was because he was "flipping the bird to people" while driving in Chicago.

"That was tongue in cheek of course -- Dartmouth in cheek," Maddon said of the 27-year-old right-hander, a Dartmouth alum. "He's the most mild-mannered wonderful fellow. It's such an awkward injury to come back from."

• Cubs closer has walked two batters in each of his last two outings, the only time he's issued two walks in one outing. Maddon isn't concerned.

"His stuff has been great," Maddon said. "If you talk to him, he'll say he feels off a little bit. It's primarily off-speed pitches -- his curveball and cutter that are off the plate. He's not getting them to chase. His fastball has been outstanding."

Davis has gotten out of the jams and is 19-for-19 in save situations with the Cubs.

"His stuff is dynamic, and he knows what he's doing out there," Maddon said. "I've always believed that about Wade. I also believe those two walks are going away.

"He will not give in. He's a former starter who will not give in."

• During an early batting-practice session, turned around and hit right-handed, and did so with success. He hit a home run. Don't expect him to become a switch-hitter.

"He's not hitting right-handed," Maddon said of Rizzo.

• Manager Rick Renteria is in charge of the White Sox rebuilding process, and Maddon said it seems like a perfect fit.

"[Renteria] is rooted in development, he gets it, he understands how it all plays out," Maddon said. "He's had a lot of experience in that. I think it's probably interesting for him to put this whole thing back together. I'm certain he'll do a great job with it. They have done a wonderful job amassing talent. It's not unlike what [Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein] and the boys did here a couple years ago."

• Speaking of Epstein, he gave a team of young ballplayers a tour of the Cubs' clubhouse prior to Sunday's game. One of the stops included Maddon's office.

"They checked out the flamingos in my office," Maddon said.

The group wasn't shy, and gave the Cubs manager some suggestions for Sunday's lineup. One even pointed out that rookie is "doing his damage on the first pitch."

"I asked them to walk by Happer's locker and reiterate that," Maddon said. "Make sure St. Louis doesn't hear that."