MESA, Ariz. -- The summer after their junior year in high school, Kyle Hendricks and Tyler Chatwood played on a baseball travel team in southern California called the Southland Shockers. Back then, the two never thought they'd be teammates again. Now, Hendricks and Chatwood are reunited on the Cubs."It was
MESA, Ariz. -- The summer after their junior year in high school, Kyle Hendricks and Tyler Chatwood played on a baseball travel team in southern California called the Southland Shockers. Back then, the two never thought they'd be teammates again. Now, Hendricks and Chatwood are reunited on the Cubs.
"It was fun," Chatwood said of their time together as prep players. "To be back with him again is pretty cool."
When they were both on the Shockers, Chatwood was a shortstop and starring at Redlands East Valley High School in Redlands, Calif., while Hendricks was a pitcher at Capistrano Valley High School in Mission Viejo, Calif. Kyle Skipworth, a first-round pick in 2008 by the Marlins, also was on the Shockers team.
"He raked -- he was a really good hitter," Hendricks said of Chatwood, who signed a three-year contract with the Cubs in December. "We had a really good team. I got to know him a little then, and it's pretty cool to reunite with him.
"It doesn't seem that long ago, honestly, but then it does, and you think about it, and it's been a while and a long road, and now to come back here together, it's kind of funny."
Chatwood downplayed his hitting ability.
"I played shortstop pretty much throughout high school," Chatwood said. "My senior year, I pitched a couple innings, I had a pretty strict pitch count. Once I got drafted by the Angels, they told me I was going to be a full-time pitcher, so I converted."
The Angels selected him in the second round of the 2008 Draft (Hendricks was drafted in the 39th round that year by the Angels but didn't sign). It was an adjustment for Chatwood to go from playing every day to pitching every fifth day.
"In high school, I threw really hard," Chatwood said of his few pitching outings at Redlands East. "My velocity was up. I did throw maybe 30 innings my senior year. Every time I pitched, there were a bunch of scouts there because I could throw hard and had a pretty good curveball. I guess I wasn't as good a hitter as I thought I was. I thought I was pretty good, but the other people didn't see it that way. It worked out."
From what Hendricks saw, Chatwood could handle a bat just fine.
"He was a really good shortstop and he could hit," Hendricks said. "He just couldn't hit for power. He was a gap hitter. He hit third in our lineup, I think. He was solid. He was one of our best hitters."
Chatwood did show off his arm strength at shortstop.
"He always threw really hard, even from shortstop," Hendricks said. "He had a cannon. That must be what they saw. He was always an athlete. He could play outfield, shortstop most of the time. He could play any position. He could hit."
Chatwood made his Major League debut on April 11, 2011, at the age of 21. Hendricks was attending Dartmouth at that time and was drafted later that year by the Rangers in the eighth round.
What's interesting to Chatwood is how little Hendricks has changed since their high school days.
"He had the same demeanor and everything," Chatwood said. "That's impressive. Being around him this offseason and being able to throw with him every day and watching how he goes about it, it's very impressive to watch what he does."
Chatwood lives in the Phoenix area and Hendricks came down early to prepare for the 2018 season, so the two, who are both 28, have been working out together since Chatwood signed with the Cubs.
"Having him here is going to be huge," Hendricks said. "Getting out of Colorado and getting in this environment will help."
The Cubs are hoping the same. Chatwood posted a 3-8 record and 6.01 ERA in 17 games (12 starts) at Coors Field last season for the Rockies and was 5-7 with a 3.49 ERA in 16 games (13 starts) on the road.
"You don't necessarily cringe [when you pitch at Coors Field]," Hendricks said. "It's a battle. It's something you need to look forward to and you can't put a negative light on it. Everyone knows what it is, and you go there, and you almost have to have fun with it. It's an experiment -- it's like, 'What do I have to do to get outs today? Where do I find it?'
"The more you pitch there, you find different things. Talking to him is kind of funny, too, since he pitched there so much. He has a good curveball and spin rate on his curveball, and in Colorado, it's hard to throw curveballs. You feel you try to throw harder and it stays up and doesn't spin. That could be a big difference for him coming here, just feeling comfortable with everything."
Hendricks, by the way, has a 1-1 record and 3.28 ERA in four starts in his career at Coors Field, including a win Aug. 7, 2014, in which he gave up one earned run over eight innings.
"It's really neat," Chatwood said about being teammates with Hendricks again. "To have a chance to play with him, I'm very excited. I try to pick his brain on everything. It'll be good."
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.