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Cubs plan to go slowly with injured Hendricks

By JAY COHENJune 19, 2019
Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks walks off the field after being removed from the baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the fifth inning in Los Angeles, Friday, June 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)
Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks walks off the field after being removed from the baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the fifth inning in Los Angeles, Friday, June 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)

CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Cubs plan to move slowly with Kyle Hendricks after tests confirmed the right-hander is dealing with a shoulder impingement.

Hendricks was placed on the 10-day injured list Saturday, one day after he permitted five runs in 4 1/3 innings in a 5-3 loss to NL West-leading Los Angeles. Hendricks was 6-0 with a 1.99 ERA in his previous eight starts before stumbling against the Dodgers.

“There’s no question we’ll take the length of the season into account,” general manager Jed Hoyer said before Tuesday night’s 3-1 loss to the crosstown White Sox. “We know how impactful he is when he’s right and we want to get him right and if that means patience, we’ll exercise patience.”

Hendricks led the majors with a 2.13 ERA over 190 innings in 2016. He went 14-11 with a 3.44 ERA in 33 starts last year.

He agreed to a new contract with the team in March that adds $55.5 million from 2020 to 2023, guaranteeing he will receive $62,905,000 over the next five seasons.

“All the tests confirm sort of what we thought,” Hoyer said. “He was kind of dealing with a little impingement. We feel like we got ahead of it. We’re not sure how much time he’ll miss, but we’ll try to take it slowly.”

Tyler Chatwood will take Hendricks’ turn in the rotation Thursday against the New York Mets. Chatwood is 3-1 with a 3.60 ERA in 17 appearances, including one start, bouncing back nicely after he struggled last year in his first season with the Cubs.

While it’s unclear when Hendricks might be back, Craig Kimbrel took another step toward joining the Cubs when he worked a perfect inning in his first appearance with Triple-A Iowa on Tuesday. The right-hander needed just eight pitches to retire the side, striking out his final batter.

The 31-year-old Kimbrel is ramping up after finalizing a three-year contract with Chicago on June 7 that guarantees the closer $43 million. He could pitch in another minor league game Thursday or Friday.

“I think things are trending in the right direction, obviously,” Hoyer said. “He’s felt good, but we’re not going to rush to judgment on any one outing. We’re just going to take this process as we planned it out and try to get him ready for the rest of the season.”

Hoyer also said he thinks reliever Brandon Morrow is up to about 135 feet for his throwing program. Morrow had offseason elbow surgery, and then experienced a setback during the recovery process.

“I feel like with Brandon, we’ve been down this road a few times, where he feels good and then he has a setback,” Hoyer said. “So I don’t want to be over-optimistic. I don’t want to be pessimistic. This is where he is and obviously getting him back would be such an incredible bonus at this point. He could be a real shot in the arm for the bullpen.”

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Jay Cohen can be reached at https://twitter.com/jcohenap

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