By Bruce Levine–
MESA, Ariz. (CBS) — With two shutout innings in the books in his spring debut, Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks already looks like he’s ready for Opening Day.
In his team’s 9-3 win against the Dodgers on Saturday, Hendricks had his usual pinpoint command, allowing one hit and striking out one in his brief 16-pitch outing. As he did in 2016 in leading the big leagues in ERA, Hendricks made pitching look easy the old-fashioned way, hitting his lower quadrants of the zone.
“It felt short,” Hendricks said of his time on the mound. “I was sweating in the bullpen warming up. I slowed it down when I got out there. It was just good getting out there with the fans and everything going on.”
Hendricks is surgical in facing hitters, with a style that’s unique in an era of pitchers who fire 98-mph fastballs. This season, watch for him to tweak his approach a bit by mixing in his curveball more.
“I have to make sure I am pushing myself,” Hendricks said. (Manager Joe Maddon) reminds us not to feel too comfortable. I need to be aware of where my pitches are at. I have to make sure I have angles on it .You can’t slow play it. You want to give yourself some time to get ready. You also can’t go so slow that you are not ready for day one.”
Hendricks has earned the full faith of Maddon, the coaching staff and his teammates.
“He is kind of pure the way he goes about his business,” Maddon said. “I want him to continue on that path.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.