Kyle Hendricks DL move, Addison Russell probe test Cubs’ depth, mettle

As if the Cubs didn’t have enough starting pitching questions more than two months into the season, Kyle Hendricks went on the 10-day disabled list because of tendinitis on the back of his pitching hand.

“It’s something we do not think is serious or long-term,” team president Theo Epstein said.

Epstein said he expects last year’s major-league ERA leader to be ready for the series in Pittsburgh June 16-18.

Meanwhile, swingman Mike Montgomery will make his first start of the season in Hendricks’ place Friday against the Rockies.

Kyle Hendricks during his last start, June 4.

Hendricks (4-3) reported the discomfort after throwing a side session Wednesday, and manager Joe Maddon described the move as precautionary.

The regression of a starting rotation that led the majors with a collective 2.96 ERA last season has been the team’s biggest problem.

And the Hendricks move came on the same day Opening Day starter Jon Lester gave up a four-run second inning to the Rockies and lasted just five innings in a 4-1 loss at Wrigley Field. It was the Cubs’ second consecutive loss after a five-game win streak.

And this on a day when the unfolding drama surrounding Addison Russell overshadowed everything else.

“It’s all about depth. You don’t win without depth,” said Maddon after former Cub DJ LeMahieu delivered the big blow in the second with a a two-out, three-run, opposite-field homer.

“These are the kind of things that you have to expect during the course of the year when your depth is tested. And I think we have very good depth.”

It looks like it’s about to get tested like it hasn’t yet this season, as Russell deals with an MLB probe into a social-media allegation of domestic violence, Hendricks misses two starts and the Cubs embark Monday on a 20-game stretch with only three games at home.

“Baseball’s a game that can be cruel to you at times and be really good to you at times,” said Lester, whose high early pitch count and lack of support cost him a chance to stay in the game longer. “With Kyle going down and obviously all the stuff going on with Addie, that’s why we’ve got 25 guys, and we’ll figure it out.

“You can’t dwell on negatives. You look forward to tomorrow now. Obviously, Kyle’s a guy that we’ll miss, but we’ll figure it out as we go.”

The Cubs already planned to pursue starting pitching during the July trading period before Hendricks became the second starter to land on the DL this season.

Brett Anderson, who pitched poorly in six starts before suffering a back strain in early May, is in Arizona making simulated starts and working his way up to a minor-league rehab assignment.

Anderson was transferred to the 60-day DL as the Cubs replaced Hendricks with right-hander Seth Frankoff, a minor-league free agent signed over the winter.

Frankoff, 28, was called up from Class AAA Iowa.

Follow me on Twitter @GDubCub.

Email: gwittenmyer@suntimes.com

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