Notes: Hendricks tosses BP; Kimbrel's outing

March 6th, 2021

PHOENIX, Ariz. -- has thrown more innings against the Brewers than any other team over the course of his career. The leader of the Cubs' rotation will add plenty more against the division rival in the upcoming campaign, too.

That was the main factor behind Hendricks' decision to log three innings in a controlled live batting practice environment on Saturday in Mesa, Ariz. Righty Shelby Miller -- fighting for a spot on Chicago's staff as a non-roster invitee -- started in the Cubs' 3-1 win against Milwaukee at American Family Fields.

"I can get the work in here," Hendricks, sitting at a table next to Field 1 at the Cubs' complex Saturday morning, said. "I think later in spring, if I were to be facing them when I had to go five, six innings -- someone in the division -- I'd just go do it. But, we just thought it'd be better just to control the situations."

As it happened, Hendricks got to face a former Brewers hitter in his workout. Veteran Eric Sogard, who was in his second day in camp as a non-roster invitee for the Cubs, stood in against Hendricks for a handful of at-bats as part of the pitcher's 45-pitch performance.

"That was one of the funny things," Hendricks said. "We came off the field and we're like, 'Man, it's like old times.' This is what we do -- attacking Sogard. It was the first day I saw him, too. To show up today and face him. It was kind of fun."

The Cubs have not officially named their Opening Day starter, but the timing of Hendricks' throwing kept him in line for that potential April 1 assignment against the Pirates. Pressed again on Saturday morning, Cubs manager David Ross smiled, but would not budge on his pick for the season opener.

"I just want to make sure everybody continues to progress in the right way," Ross said. "I know you guys want to know, and I'd love to tell you, but things can happen during Spring Training that could set things back or change."

No concerns over Kimbrel
Cubs manager David Ross spent time on Saturday morning looking at video of closer Craig Kimbrel's outing from the previous afternoon. The manager wanted to examine the pitches, rather than just look at the results.

"It looked like just a little bit of rust. He felt good," Ross said. "The ball was coming out good. It didn't look like he was laboring at all."

Kimbrel was charged with four runs on four hits against Cleveland, and his inning was ended early when he reached 27 pitches. The veteran closer sat around 94-95 mph with his fastball, registered one strikeout and had mixed results with his curve.

"I look for, it was easy 95. It wasn't a lot of effort behind the first couple pitches," Ross said. "The ball was carrying in a true fashion. I thought the breaking ball was still a little lazy at times, but then I went and looked at the video this morning and it was pretty sharp. There was some really good ones in there, too."

Worth noting
• Shortstop Javier Báez was hit on the inside of his right forearm by a pitch in Friday's game, but was on the mend on Saturday. Ross noted that Báez went through the morning workout without any issues, adding that he likes the depth in place if a need did arise at that position.

"We've got a handful of guys that I feel like can play over there for a short period of time," Ross said, "should something happen to Javy. Luckily, Javy's fine, and back in there today getting work."

• Center fielder Jake Marisnick did some running drills on Friday to test a mild calf issue, per Ross. The Cubs plan on proceeding with a conservative program with Marisnick, who dealt with hamstring troubles last season. Ross said it could be at least five more days before Marisnick's Cactus League debut.

"He's progressing well," Ross said. "I want him to be able to get the bursts. He's still throwing. He's still hitting. So, I think it's just trying to take it a little bit slower and making sure there's a progression here for his running. So, he'll get on the bases here soon."

• Miller turned in two innings against the Brewers, allowing one run on two hits and ending with three strikeouts and no walks. In the first inning, the righty struck out Christian Yelich looking with a slider that the pitcher has been fine-tuning this spring.

"I felt really good, honestly," Miller, who is in the Opening Day mix as a starter or multi-inning reliever, said. "It's probably the best I felt in a while."

• With Miller's outing on Saturday, Cubs starters have now allowed just one run over 11 innings out of the gates this spring. The group has combined for 13 strikeouts against three walks with seven hits allowed.

"I think this team's going to compete. The guys they brought in are great guys as well and a lot of the core is still here. This team is always going to compete in this division. I think we'll continue to surprise a lot of people." -- Sogard said

Up next
Right-hander Jake Arrieta is set to make his first Spring Training start on Sunday, when the North Siders head to Salt River Fields to face the D-backs at 2:10 p.m. CT. Arrieta rejoined Chicago on a one-year deal over the offseason and projects to be near the top of the rotation.