Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks off to good start ahead of presumptive Opening Day nod

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Hendricks off to good start ahead of expected Opening Day nod originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

If Cubs ace Kyle Hendricks thinks he’ll be ready for another nine-inning start on Opening Day, Monday might be the way that process begins.

“That just came out absolutely nowhere,” Hendricks said after his spring debut Monday of his 2020 Opening Day complete game shutout. “So I'll say who knows? I'm preparing for the first start, and if that were to happen, man, that'd be unbelievable.”

Hendricks picked up where he left off in 2020, when he held a 2.88 ERA, on Monday. The 31-year-old tossed two shutout innings against the Padres in the Cubs’ spring training opener, allowing a hit and a walk with two strikeouts.

Although it was only a preseason game, it’s a step forward in Hendricks’ preparation for the season as he gets back into a normal routine of pitching every fifth day.

RELATED: Cubs, Kyle Hendricks take small step toward normalcy with spring opener

“You throw so many bullpens and a few live BPs early. It almost gets a little monotonous,” he said. “So finally facing a different team where you really have that competitive edge going into it, you're able to work on a few different things, attack hitters in certain ways. 

“We know when this day hits and we get into our five-day rotation, now we know we're getting close [to the season beginning].”

Hendricks made his first career Opening Day start last season, getting the call over Yu Darvish, now with the Padres. He laughed Monday when dodging the question everyone knows the answer to, whether he will be on the mound on April 1, the Cubs’ opener against the Pirates at Wrigley Field.

“You know, today was when I was going to be pitching no matter what,” Hendricks said. “I promise. Even before, with the old schedule, I was pitching on March 1st, so we'll see how it goes.”

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