MESA, Ariz. — Fifth starter Kyle Hendricks got the Cubs started with four scoreless innings, but closer Hector Rondon blew a 3-0 lead in the ninth as the Oakland A’s rallied to tie at HoHoKam Stadium. The teams decided not to play extra innings.
Left fielder/catcher Kyle Schwarber returned to left field three days after leaving a game because of knee soreness.
And he made one of the better defensive plays of the game – a running catch at the wall in the third that initially appeared to put the wall in peril.
“If I have to go through a wall, I’ll do it,” he said.
Hendricks welcomes change
Fifth-starter Hendricks’ impressive start included five strikeouts that boosted his spring total to 11 in nine innings (one run allowed). All five were on swings and misses, with “at least four” on change ups, he said.
“[The changeup] is one of the things I lost last year in the middle of the season when I got out of my mechanics,” he said. “Going through what I did last year, learning to make those adjustments, really helped and paid off.”
Manager Joe Maddon’s not willing to say that Hendricks is locked into that final rotation spot. “But he’s in pretty good shape,” the manager said.
Setup ace Pedro Strop, whose spring debut was pushed back to ease his workload after a team-high 76 appearances last year, made his spring debut and quickly retired the A’s in order in the eighth, including striking out the first two batters he faced.
Two of the Cubs top prospects, third baseman Jeimer Candelario and catcher Willson Contreras (at DH Sunday), continued to impress.
The switch-hitting Candelario went 3-for-4, including an opposite-field home run to left in the first. He’s 8-for-his-last-17 with two homers, two doubles and a walk.
Contreras, the Southern League batting champ last year, was 2-for-4 with a double – giving him five hits in his last seven at-bats (including three doubles).
Starting at his fourth position this spring – and second in 18 hours – Baez made his second highlight play in as many games.
Playing second base, he ranged far to his right for a grounder in the second, then threw back across his body for an out that was much more difficult than he made it look.
“The A’s are not going to make that play all year,” one writer from the A’s media said.
Baez made a similar play as the first baseman (throwing to the pitcher covering) in Saturday night’s split-squad game.
Padres at Cubs, Sloan Park, Mesa, Ariz., 3:05 p.m., mlb.com audio, Colin Rea vs. Jake Arrieta.