Rotation puzzle: Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks leaves game vs. Brewers with shoulder soreness

Catcher Willson Contreras is day-to-day with hamstring tightness.

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Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks left the game against the Brewers on Tuesday with soreness in his right shoulder.

Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks left the game against the Brewers on Tuesday with soreness in his right shoulder.

John Fisher/Getty Images

MILWAUKEE — In the latest blow to the Cubs’ rotation, right-hander Kyle Hendricks left an 8-3 victory Tuesday against the Brewers with soreness in his right shoulder after throwing 69 pitches in three innings.

He said it started with his warmup pitches on the mound and persisted through his outing. The ailment felt similar to what he felt last month, when the Cubs had him skip a start to address shoulder fatigue.

Hendricks stopped short of guaranteeing he would miss his next start, saying he still needed to undergo imaging. But he did say, ‘‘That might be a good conclusion to pull from this.’’

The Cubs might have reinforcements coming soon. Right-hander Marcus Stroman rejoined the team in Milwaukee after one rehab start, but manager David Ross wouldn’t say whether Stroman (inflammation in right shoulder) would need another before returning from the 10-day injured list.

The same went for left-hander Drew Smyly (strained right oblique).

‘‘We haven’t gotten a full plan yet,’’ Ross said, adding that he would talk with them and map out their next steps.

Stroman threw 2⅔ innings Sunday for Triple-A Iowa, and Smyly threw four innings Monday for High-A South Bend. They’ve been on a similar throwing schedule for the last couple of weeks, and that’s expected to continue through their returns.

Before penciling Stroman and Smyly into the rotation, whether that comes during this turn or later, the Cubs have a hole to fill.

Right-hander Alec Mills left seven pitches into his start Saturday with a strained lower back, landing on the 10-day IL on Sunday. His next start would have been Thursday.

The Cubs have options. When Mills left the game Saturday, right-hander Mark Leiter Jr. replaced him and allowed one run in 5⅓ innings to earn the victory as the Cubs beat the Red Sox 3-1. Leiter could fill in again, provided he isn’t needed before then.

Neither Stroman nor Smyly is likely to return Thursday, four and three days out from their respective rehab outings. So when would it make sense to slot them in?

Between a day off Monday and the All-Star break the week after, the Cubs have flexibility to skip starts and shift around the rotation. Plus, left-hander Justin Steele, who said this spring that he and his fiancée are expecting their first child in July, is expected to go on paternity leave this month.

Contreras day-to-day

Catcher Willson Contreras (tightness in left hamstring) was out of the lineup after leaving the Cubs’ 5-2 loss Monday before the bottom of the 10th inning. Ross described Contreras as ‘‘day-to-day.’’

‘‘Very similar to what he felt last time,’’ Ross said. ‘‘Very precautious. Was smart on his behalf [to pull himself].’’

In late May, Contreras missed three games with hamstring tightness.

In other injury news . . . 

Left-hander Daniel Norris (sprained left index finger) threw a 22-pitch live batting-practice session, the Cubs said. Second baseman Nick Madrigal (strained groin) and first baseman Frank Schwindel (strained lower back) stood in against him. Madrigal also went through a full slate of baseball activities, and Schwindel ran the bases.

Schwindel is set to take ground balls Wednesday. The Cubs haven’t announced next steps for Norris and Madrigal, but they likely will go on rehab assignments soon.

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