Hendricks: Yu forgetting someone?
In case new Cubs manager David Ross hasn’t already decided on Yu Darvish as his Opening Day starter, Kyle Hendricks gave Ross something to think about Tuesday at Wrigley Field.
Not only did Hendricks outpitch Darvish in an intrasquad scrimmage, but he also appeared to be in classic form. Hitters were outclassed. Half-innings ended almost before they started. The earth moved. Angels sang.
Not to overstate it or anything, but Hendricks was really good, breezing through six scoreless innings in only 66 pitches before staying and retiring one more batter — Jason Heyward ona ground out — just for the heck of it.
Hendricks’ inning-by-inning pitch counts — nine, 14, nine, eight, 15 and 11 — were straight out of 2016, when he finished third in National League Cy Young voting. No one then considered him the team’s ace, not with Jon Lester at his best and Jake Arrieta going strong, but Hendricks was plenty good enough to start Game 7 of the World Series.
The question now: Is he good enough to warrant getting the ball on July 24 against the Brewers?
Many assume Ross will go with Darvish, who has the talent and the contract for the job. Darvish hit his pitch count (60) without getting out of the fourth inning. One of those pitches was crushed by catcher Willson Contreras, hitting his team-leading third homer of camp.
Ross hasn’t tipped his hand on the order of the rotation. He called Darvish “extremely important” to the Cubs’ fortunes in 2020.
“The way he finished the season last year, how good he was for us, that’s the guy we’re counting on,” Ross said Sunday. “He’s been around a long time now. He’s a veteran presence out there on the mound, and he can do so much with the baseball.
“For me, winning comes with pitching and defense, and he’s one of the best in the game when he’s locked in and right. That’s how I expect him to step out there. We feel really good about our chances when he takes the bump.”
Ross was forced to miss Monday’s workout because of a delay in receiving his latest coronavirus test results. The test, taken Saturday, came back after the workout and was negative.
“It was miserable,” he said of staying away. “Your team’s here working and you want to be a part of it. There’s no way around that.”
That’s mostly true. Along with his dog, Ross did watch much of the workout from a Sheffield Avenue rooftop, texting with bench coach Andy Green all the while.
Many teams, including the Cubs, are counting on a second MLB testing site to improve delivery of results. The main lab in Utah doesn’t open until 10:30 a.m. CDT. An East Coast lab at Rutgers University is now in use, too.
This and that
Reliever Kyle Ryan made his camp scrimmage debut and found himself on the business end of a Javy Baez homer that clanked off the top row of the bleachers in left.
Kyle Schwarber made a pair of nice catches in left. After sprinting back and reaching high to snag a drive from Albert Almora Jr. on the warning track, Schwarber turned and saw both Darvish and Almora saluting him.
Darvish clapped his right hand into his mitt above his head, while Almora held his batting helmet aloft all the way around second base.
The Cubs added three pitchers — lefties Justin Steele and Jack Patterson and righty Keegan Thompson — to their player pool, bringing their roster to 54 of the allowable 60. All three players were sent to the team’s taxi site in South Bend, Indiana.
Kyle Hendricks was golden during the Cubs’ intrasquad scrimmage Tuesday with six-plus scoreless innings.