Hen­dricks: Yu for­get­ting some­one?

Chicago Sun-Times - - SPORTS - BY STEVE GREEN­BERG, STAFF RE­PORTER sgreen­berg@sun­times.com | @SLGreen­berg

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.”

Testy man­ager

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.

JONATHAN DANIEL/GETTY IMAGES

Kyle Hen­dricks was golden dur­ing the Cubs’ in­trasquad scrim­mage Tues­day with six-plus score­less in­nings.

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