By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — The waiting has been the worst part of Cubs right-hander Kyle Henricks’ rehab from a right middle finger strain. The big league leader in ERA in 2017, Hendricks was injured in early June and hasn’t pitched for the Cubs since June 4.
Hendricks will return against the crosstown rival White Sox on Monday afternoon. It’s another positive sign for a rotation that has produced six quality start in the eight games since the All-Star break, over which they acquired left-hander Jose Quintana.
“To get Kyle and (Jose) Quintana here this time of the season is important,” Joe Maddon said Sunday. “Getting Kyle back with this particular group is really interesting to watch right now. This should also be a real shot in the arm to the group. Just like getting Jose for that start in Baltimore — you could feel a difference in the attitude. When Kyle takes the mound, I suspect the group feeling the same thing.”
Hendricks had two rehab outings in preparation for his start, in which Miguel Gonzalez will start for the White Sox.
“I am just excited to get back out there and hopefully add to the roll we are on right now,” Hendricks said. “Right now, my finger is feeling good. I would have liked to come back sooner, but I am glad we took the course we did and how it panned out.”
Trying to get the middle finger pain of Hendricks under control, the Cubs medical staff took two MRI exams before the treatments began to lessen the pain. In two rehab starts at Double-A Tennessee, he allowed one run on two hits in 8 1/3 innings, including five perfect innings in his last outing July 17, against Mobile.
The most painful aspects of the finger injury were the curveball and sinker.
“The doctors didn’t know what it was at first,” Hendricks said. “Then it took two weeks for the pain to get out of there. It was about two to three weeks to build the strength back up in the hand. I used the time to keep my body in shape. I did my cardio work, my shoulder work to keep the arm strong. I tried to take every positive out of it I possibly could. This was also a breather and helped to get away from it. Now I am ready to go. I need this mentally. I need baseball in my life, for sure.”
Hendricks is 4-3 with a 4.09 ERA this season. Pitching against the White Sox is a little bonus bump of adrenaline moving into this comeback start.
“Walking around town, that is all you see,” Hendricks said, referring to all the Cubs and White Sox jerseys. “We see more Cubs now. It is always fun driving down to their ballpark. It is like another home game in a way, even though it is on the road. We always have a good time with it.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.