By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (670 The Score) — It’s been a busy offseason for Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks, who was married in late November and then went on his honeymoon.
All along, the Cubs front office kept Hendricks updated on their offseason moves, with executives Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer using him as a recruiter in the interview process for free agent Japanese pitcher/outfielder Shohei Ohtani, who ended up signing with the Angels just more than a week ago. The Cubs felt Hendricks’ low-key demeanor was helpful to display to Ohtani, himself a quiet type.
“It was very humbling and pretty cool to be invited,” Hendricks related about the trip to Los Angeles and his part of the Ohtani recruitment. “It was great to be in the room and see the process. He is such a great talent, and it was enjoyable to see what type of guy he is — very down to earth and a humble guy. Even with the language barrier, Theo let me know what his personality was like. He was all baseball all of the time. We have some similarities, so it was fun to go there and talk baseball with him.”
Despite not luring Ohtani to Chicago, Epstein, Hendricks and all involved were pleased with their efforts and what they showcased.
“Even with the language barrier, we were able to connect and talk pitching,” Hendricks said. “It went really well I thought.”
While missing out on Ohtani, the Cubs have made a series of pitching additions. Right-hander Tyler Chatwood signed a three-year deal, and right-handed reliever Brandon Morrow agreed to a two-year deal to serve as an anchor at the back of the bullpen. The Cubs also added righty reliever Steve Cishek to the bullpen and with an eye on 2019 inked a deal with left-hander Drew Smyly, who may miss all of 2018 rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.
“I am really excited about the moves so far,” Hendricks said. “The signings have been huge. I have heard Morrow is a great guy. I have not heard much about (Cichek) yet. Morrow is a power guy, and I heard he is very low key and will probably fit well in our clubhouse. (Chatwood) and I grew up in the same area in Southern California. We played summer ball as seniors together. I know from experience, he is a great guy and just a baseball guy. That is what our whole team is about. As long as we keep getting guys like this, they will fit right in the clubhouse and fit in right with the culture. That will help them relax, so we can get the best out of them.”
Hendricks has been working out six days a week at the East Bank Club over the last two months as he prepares for the 2018, which he expressed great enthusiasm about. Hendricks will have a new pitching coach in Jim Hickey with the Cubs letting Chris Bosio go. Hendricks wasn’t surprised by that change, as word had spread during the season that a change could be on the horizon.
“Bos was huge for me and instrumental in my development,” Hendricks said. “He was the only big league (coach) I ever dealt with. So the transition will be a little different. The way he worked with everyone, it set you up to be able to work with other coaches going forward. He tried to give you the tools to help you be your own coach. He didn’t hover over you so you need him 24/7. I have not talked to Hickey yet. I am sure we will at the Cubs Convention. Everything I heard, people just rave about him. I heard he is an unbelievable guy. Just a baseball guy with a great baseball mind. I am really excited about picking his brain and learn some more from another coach.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.