Nico Hoerner makes impact in and out of lineup; Kyle Hendricks close to return

The Cubs reinstated Hoerner from the 10-day injured list Friday. Meanwhile, Hendricks is targeting 90-plus pitches in a rehab start Saturday.

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Nico Hoerner #2 of the Chicago Cubs reacts after hitting a two RBI double in the top of the second inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on May 19, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Nico Hoerner #2 of the Chicago Cubs reacts after hitting a two RBI double in the top of the second inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on May 19, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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PHILADELPHIA — Second baseman Nico Hoerner returned to the top of the Cubs’ batting order Friday, reinstated from the injured list in a flurry of roster moves.

In the Cubs’ 10-1 win against the Phillies, Hoerner hit two two-run doubles, going 3-for-6. The Cubs snapped a season-high five-game losing streak as starter Marcus Stroman limited Philadelphia to one run through six innings and the offense put together multiple tone-setting rallies.

“It’s huge,” Hoerner said of the lopsided score. “I think it’s a really, really great sign for our group. It matters for saving the bullpen, it matters for creating positivity and guys having some results. It all is significant, even when a position player’s on the mound.”

And the Phillies did put infielder Kody Clemens on the mound in the ninth, after Christopher Morel’s sixth home run in nine games.

“I think having Nico in the lineup is a game changer,” Stroman said. “Truly. He’s a unbelievable player, he’s dynamic on both sides of the ball, and he sparks us when he’s in there.”

Hoerner was slashing .303/.348/.395 batting leadoff before straining his hamstring on the basepaths. He still managed to make an impact off the field. After rookie Matt Mervis hit a clutch double in the Cubs’ 6-2 win against the Twins last week, he credited a conversation with Hoerner earlier in the game.

“He’s a great teammate,” Mervis said. “He’s always helping in whatever way he can. And obviously a guy that’s had a lot of success so far this season offensively, and a guy that I look up to as a hitter. So just having him to run an idea by approach-wise is great.”

Hendricks nearing return

Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks (strained right shoulder) is targeting 90-plus pitches in a rehab start Saturday, which could be his last before returning from the IL.

“That’s the big one for me, just repeating those heavier workloads,” Cubs pitching coach Tommy Hottovy said. “We’ve had a bullpen that’s covered a lot of innings. So, the last thing you want to do is have a guy come up that’s not fully stretched out and going to ask a lot of our bullpen to cover behind him.”

As long as that start goes well and Hendricks recovers as expected, the next step will be deciding where to slot him. If the Cubs kept him on a five-day rotation, he could start late next week. But that would clump together the Cubs’ three right-handers and two lefties. If they push him back to next weekend, they could slot him in between left-handers Drew Smyly and Justin Steele.

Tauchman makes Cubs debut

Outfielder Mike Tauchman, a Palatine native, made his Cubs debut pinch-hitting in the ninth. He’d impressed as a non-roster invitee in spring training and had an .870 OPS in Triple-A. The Cubs needed an outfielder to fill in for Cody Bellinger (bruised left knee), who went on the 10-day IL.

“It’s a really cool opportunity being able to play for a team you grew up watching and rooting for,” Tauchman said.

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