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Cubs 5, Giants 5: ‘Best’ start of spring for Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks

MESA, Ariz. — After allowing a two-run homer to Brandon Belt in the first, Kyle Hendricks settled in to shut down the Giants until leaving with two outs in the fifth after allowing a run on a leadoff double followed by a single. “That was the best [start] feelingwise, for sure,” he said. “I saw the glove better. My timing was better, more in sync.” He’s scheduled for an abbreviated tuneup Tuesday against the Red Sox before his season debut, which is likely against the Braves on April 1.

Flying solo

Albert Almora Jr. led off the bottom of the first with a homer to left-center, and Victor Caratini added a solo shot to right in the fourth for his second hit of the game. That was all of the scoring by the projected Cubs big-leaguers in the game.

Strop on tap

Victor Caratini homered in the fourth, his second hit of the game. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)

Late-inning reliever Pedro Strop (right hamstring), the likely first choice to fill in for closer Brandon Morrow (elbow) during the first month of the season, is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Friday. If he fares well, he said his next step is to make at least one appearance in a game before camp closes. His chances of opening the season on time? “A hundred percent,” he said Thursday. “I don’t make the decision though. But healthwise, 100 percent.”

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Speaking of Morrow

The closer threw from a mound for the second time this spring as he continues a slow-and-steady rehab process from debridement surgery in November. He threw 25 pitches, all fastballs. “All good,” Morrow said of Thursday’s session.

On deck

Split squad: Rangers at Cubs, Mesa, 3:05 p.m. Friday, Ch. 9, cubs.com radio, Jordan Romano vs. Jose Quintana; Cubs at Indians, Goodyear, 8:05 p.m., 670-AM, Duane Underwood Jr. vs. Corey Kluber.