Chicago Cubs RHP Kyle Hendricks is looking at bullpen move as an 'opportunity'

Wed, May 22, 2024
MLB News (AP)

Chicago Cubs RHP Kyle Hendricks is looking at bullpen move as an 'opportunity'

CHICAGO (AP) - Kyle Hendricks is looking at his transition to the bullpen as an opportunity.

Hendricks was pushed out of Chicago's rotation after he went 0-4 with a 10.57 ERA in his first seven starts of the season. It looks as if the Cubs will go with a bullpen day in Hendricks' regular slot on Thursday against Atlanta.

The 34-year-old right-hander has made just two relief appearances in his 11 years in the majors, one during the 2016 season and when he got the loss during a 13-inning 2018 NL Wild Card Game against Colorado.

"We all know what's been going on," Hendricks said Wednesday. "I think just trying to give the team the best chance to win, at the end of the day. And that's all I'm trying to be about too.

"So I'm honestly excited for the opportunity and the challenge in a way. ... Just a big opportunity, obviously, to try and turn things around."

Hendricks, who is eligible for free agency after this season, is the last roster link to Chicago's 2016 World Series championship. He was acquired in a July 2012 trade that sent Ryan Dempster to the Texas Rangers.

Over a five-year stretch from 2016 to 2020, Hendricks went 54-39 with a 3.00 ERA and four complete games. He struck out 668 batters and issued 168 walks in 787 innings.

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He was sidelined by a capsular tear in his right shoulder in July 2022 and then began last season on the injured list as he continued his rehab. He returned to the mound last May and finished last year with a 3.74 ERA in 24 starts.

But the beginning of this season has been rough.

"You can't put up those kind of results," Hendricks said. "We're in a win now kind of mode, and that's exactly where I want to be. I want to be part of a team that's winning. I just want to be doing my part to contribute to that winning. So I wasn't doing that."

Hendricks was placed on the 15-day injured list on April 23 with a low back strain. He returned on May 12 and pitched five effective innings at Pittsburgh, but he surrendered seven earned runs in 4 2/3 innings against the Pirates on Friday.

"I think there's a lot of positives you can take from the way he's throwing the ball. He hasn't put it together yet," president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer said Tuesday. "So, to be clear, I think he has a lot of good baseball left to pitch."

Asked if his goal was to return to the rotation, Hendricks responded: "My goal is just honestly to make good pitches, make good pitches and get some outs, see the results that come from it."

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JAY COHEN Cohen is a national baseball writer and an editor on the AP's sports desk. Based in Chicago, he also covers hockey, football and basketball, along with international water polo. twitter facebook "
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