TEMPE, Ariz. — Kyle Hendricks, who has made it a focus this spring of improving his curveball, spent the 2⅓-inning start on his fastball-changeup combo. “After the first inning seeing how the heater was a little flat, we just really wanted to lock in and get back on the fastball-changeup,” said Hendricks, who struck out four and whose two runs allowed scored when Mike Trout hit a three-run homer after he left the game in Tempe. “I know that’s my bread and butter, so just making sure that’s there. But going forward, my next two starts at least, a big focus will be on throwing more curveballs.”
Catcher Willson Contreras hit what looked like a two-run, inside-the-park home run in the first when center fielder Trout couldn’t reach the ball in the gap, then kicked it toward right on the miss. But it was scored as a double and an error.
Cubs left fielder Kyle Schwarber walked, struck out and doubled off the wall to the opposite field in three trips to the plate. He has now walked in all seven spring games with a total of nine in 19 plate appearances (also 5-for-10 with three doubles). Time for another tango with the leadoff spot?
Pedro Strop, expected to be the Cubs’ de facto fill-in closer the first month of the season, and newcomer Brad Brach are scheduled to make their spring game debuts Wednesday against the Royals. Steve Cishek, who pitched a scoreless inning in his debut Saturday, also is scheduled to pitch. “It’s just about health. Be well,” manager Joe Maddon said. “This time of year, that’s all that I’m concerned about.”
Royals at Cubs, Mesa, 2:05 p.m. Wednesday, cubs.com radio, Heath Fillmyer vs. Jose Quintana.