Opening Day starter: Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks, Marcus Stroman lobbying for each other

Cubs manager David Ross has yet to name his Opening Day starter.

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Cubs pitcher Marcus Stroman is expected to be one of the Cubs’ rotation leaders this season. File photo.

Cubs pitcher Marcus Stroman is expected to be one of the Cubs’ rotation leaders this season. File photo.

John Antonoff/Sun-Times

GOODYEAR, Ariz. — The top of the Cubs’ rotation has already started bonding. 

Veteran Kyle Hendricks and newcomer Marcus Stroman, who started the Cactus League game against the Reds on Monday, are expected to be the No. 1 and No. 2 starters. Each has lobbied for the other to get the Opening Day start. 

“Hendricks is the guy,” Stroman said last week. “He’s been doing this for a long time. I’ll pitch Day 5 — I really don’t care when I pitch. . . . I’ve never been prideful on that. I truly believe Hendricks should be the Opening Day [starter] just because of his career, how unbelievable he’s been in the playoffs. His résumé speaks for itself.” 

Hendricks, who has been the Opening Day starter the last two seasons, said Stroman’s vote of confidence means a lot — and he has given Stroman the same. 

“I’m just so excited to pitch alongside him,” Hendricks said. “And we know that whoever gets the first game, we’re excited for just the whole road together, to be together as a staff — me, him, Wade [Miley] — see what we can do at the top of this rotation and set the tone and the identity for us.”

Hendricks and Stroman only really got to know each other this spring. They had pitched against each other before, with a quick exchange while warming up.

“We’ve kind of just gotten to know each other personally right now, just get to know each other as guys,” Hendricks said, “and he’s just an awesome human being overall, him and his family, everything about him. 

“But when we get into the nitty-gritty of it into the season, definitely it’s gonna be fun to learn from each other. And we pitch in similar styles, for sure. He’s got some other secondary stuff, but the way we use our fastballs, his sinker, especially, it’s gonna be fun to watch just how he attacks guys and take some things from him.” 

Stroman threw four innings Monday, putting him on track to build up to around five in his final spring start. He allowed two runs and two hits against the Reds.

Miley, Givens bounce back

Miley and reliever Mychal Givens were doing well a day after each threw live batting practice for the first time this spring. 

“Talking to Mychal on the bench yesterday, he felt really good — stuff was coming out well,” manager David Ross said. “[He] feels like his timing is just not quite there yet, which is to be expected. As long as the arm’s healthy, the ball’s coming out the right way, especially with his arm slot, get that timing down.”

On deck

The Cubs are set to face the Diamondbacks on Tuesday afternoon. Cubs lefty Justin Steele is scheduled to take the mound opposite a former rotation mate, Arizona right-hander Zach Davies.

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