Home News Chicago Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks struggles in season debut

Chicago Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks struggles in season debut

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ARLINGTON, Texas — The Texas Rangers lineup is too good and too deep to get away with many mistakes on the mound.

Kyle Hendricks knew going into his first start Saturday at Globe Life Field that he needed to command his stuff to keep the Rangers in check. He successfully worked around back-to-back singles to open the first inning, but Hendricks surrendered five runs over the next three innings before getting pulled with two outs in the fourth. The Rangers most of their damage on a pair of two-run homers by Adolis García and Jared Walsh. Hendricks allowed multiple home runs in only four of his 24 starts last season.

He was charged with five earned runs and nine hits in 3 2/3 innings while walking two and striking out two batters.

“Kyle’s outings all depend on execution, and he probably was just a little short on his execution tonight, and they made him pay with some hard-hit balls and then they got some balls that found some holes,” manager Craig Counsell said. “But Kyle’s got to execute at a high level, and I thought tonight he probably didn’t execute at a high level.”

Hendricks is still searching for the feel on his pitches, particularly his fastball and curveball. He also pulled a couple of changeups, most notably on his 1-1 pitch to Walsh in the second that tied the game.

“Not ideal — a couple wrong selections, too, I’m just not feeling it quite yet,” Hendricks said. “A couple easy fixes hopefully, but I’ve got to get back to work and iron some things out.”

Hendricks spent the offseason and spring working on his curveball, a pitch he wants to throw more this season. He threw only two curveballs he felt weren’t good among his 72 pitches Saturday.

“Just kind of a little too predictable to a good team like that,” Hendricks said.

Roster getting early work

Cubs manager Craig Counsell walks to the dugout during the fourth inning against the Rangers on March 30, 2024, in Arlington, Texas. (Stacy Revere/Getty)
Cubs manager Craig Counsell walks to the dugout during the fourth inning against the Rangers on March 30, 2024, in Arlington, Texas. (Stacy Revere/Getty)

Throughout spring, Counsell talked about the importance of needing everyone, even those beyond the 26-man roster, to contribute for the Cubs to accomplish their goals.

Through two games, Counsell has shown how willing he is to utilize his full roster. All nine nonstarting pitchers have appeared in a game while outfielder Mike Tauchman is the only position player who has not gotten on the field. The versatility of players such as infielder Miles Mastrobuoni allows Counsell to be more aggressive in close games.

Mastrobuoni’s stellar play with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 10th with the game tied Thursday gave the Cubs a chance to escape the inning. He leaped to snag a high chopper off the plate and quickly positioned himself to fire a perfect throw home for the second out on a forceout. He made a difficult play look routine.

“It’s what Miles excels at and that doesn’t always show up necessarily on on a stat line,” Counsell said. “In that case, his role is supporting other players and helping other players be put in positions for success. So it’s valuable, and I think Miles has got his head around it after doing it for a little bit and knows that’s his value to the team.

“Frankly, the best way to get the opportunity to get your name in a lineup for Miles is to have the ability to play multiple positions because then more things can happen and more spots for him to get that opportunity at some point that every player wants.”

Rangers receiving World Series rings is a reminder of the end goal

Rangers stars Corey Seager, left, and Marcus Semien review their World Series rings before a game against the Cubs on March 30, 2024, in Arlington, Texas. (Gareth Patterson/AP)
Rangers stars Corey Seager, left, and Marcus Semien review their World Series rings before a game against the Cubs on March 30, 2024, in Arlington, Texas. (Gareth Patterson/AP)

As part of opening the season at Globe Life Field, the Cubs’ first two games were preceded by festivities honoring the Rangers’ 2023 World Series title.

A white banner emblazoned with “World Series Champions” was unfurled Thursday from the rafters to kick off opening day, followed by Rangers players and staff receiving their diamond-encrusted rings during an on-field pregame ceremony Saturday.

Hendricks is the only Cubs player remaining from the 2016 title team and understands how special those moments are to recognize a team’s achievements. At the end of spring, Hendricks said the Cubs had talked about what the atmosphere would be like against the Rangers in a packed stadium and the emotion and energy that can come from those ceremonies.

“That’s where we want to get to you know, so just having that example right in front of you, that extra motivation, to be able to start there and get the ceremony, the whole thing and then play against them, it’s going to be great for our experience,” Hendricks said then.

Ian Happ has seen what it means to players to receive their World Series ring when past teammates would get a pregame moment on the road to get the memento from their previous organization.

“Those guys accomplished a ton, those guys went through the grind and come out on top, and to watch those guys experience that is awesome,” Happ said Thursday. “You play against these guys and they’re your competition, but I have a ton of respect for everybody that does this and that group what they did last year so, yeah, I will take it in and appreciate what they were able to do.”



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