Kyle Hendricks hitting 90 mph, but he’d love to have Justin Steele’s stuff

Hendricks will make his third rehab start Tuesday night for Triple-A Iowa. He said he might need two more rehab starts before rejoining the Cubs.

SHARE Kyle Hendricks hitting 90 mph, but he’d love to have Justin Steele’s stuff

Kyle Hendricks talks with reporters during batting practice before the game against the Marlins on Saturday at Wrigley Field.

Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

A giddy Kyle Hendricks reported Saturday that his velocity has returned to 90 mph and spending the last two days at Wrigley Field marked the most important steps in his recovery from a shoulder injury.

Hendricks had one more request after watching left-hander Justin Steele post his 14th consecutive start of allowing two earned runs or fewer Friday.

“I wish I had his stuff,” said Hendricks, the lone remaining member of the 2016 World Series champs.

Hendricks, 33, who will make his third rehab start Tuesday night for Triple-A Iowa, marveled over Steele’s deceptiveness with simply his fastball and slider.

“Soft contact and attacking,” said Hendricks, who frustrated opposing batters with those traits before suffering a capsular tear that has prevented him from starting in a major-league game since July 5. “I’d like to be more like him now in that way. He’s getting after it. It’s so fun to watch his development.”

The success of the Cubs’ rotation has provided more patience for Hendricks, who said he might need two more rehab starts before rejoining the major-league team.

“I want to be sharp and right,” Hendricks said. “Whenever my number is called, I want to come here and give quality and be able to dominate along with all of them, give us a chance to win every time out there. That’s where I need to get to.”

Despite control issues by left-hander Drew Smyly, the Cubs’ starters have a National League-leading 3.25 ERA after a 4-2 comeback victory over the defense-challenged Marlins.

Manager David Ross knows the importance of rotation depth as well as Hendricks’ experience and camaraderie with his teammates and coaches. The Cubs have used seven starters, but Ross wants a completely healthy version of Hendricks before he returns.

“He’s had a long layoff,” Ross said. “When he gets back and is the version of him that we all expect, it’s a really good situation for us.”

Said Smyly: “I think there’s always a spot for Kyle Hendricks.”

Despite allowing 10 runs, eight hits and four walks in 4⅓ innings covering two rehab starts, Hendricks said emphatically that he feels healthy. He revamped his work between starts to produce more strength while relegating his yoga work to breathing.

“I feel great every single day,” said Hendricks, who has thrown at least 177 innings in six of his eight full seasons. “I’m able to play catch. I didn’t have that the last couple years. It was in-between work just monitoring the volume and not as much work.”

The visit to Wrigley, however, was designed to examine his mechanics in an effort to repeat his delivery more frequently, with the aid of data and video.

Hendricks said trusting his shoulder was the “first big hurdle” to clear, which was validated after his first rehab start April 28.

“Not feeling anything showed me I was in the clear,” Hendricks said. “I feel I’ve cleared all those hurdles. It’s not in my mind any more.”

Hendricks is projected to throw 75 pitches against Toledo.

The Latest
With Caitlin Clark-Angel Reese rivalry rising to another level, this is going to be fun for years to come.
The subject of abortion and reproductive freedoms is going to come up Thursday, when former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden face off in their first 2024 debate hosted by CNN in Atlanta.
Leiter is just the latest Cubs hurler to end up on the IL, further testing the team’s depth.
Raysean Comer, 16, faces multiple felony charges, including first-degree murder and discharging a firearm that caused death, in addition to two other charges related to prior warrants, police said. The 7-year-old was shot outside his Near West Side home Wednesday.
In front of a sold-out crowd — the team’s third of the season — the Sky was led by rookie Angel Reese, who notched her eighth straight double double.