Chicago Cubs News: Kyle Hendricks takes step forward after bullpen session

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After throwing a "touch and feel" bullpen session last month, Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks took another step forward on Monday as he continues to recover from a shoulder injury that ended his 2022 season in July.

Hendricks threw a traditional bullpen session on Monday as it was a 25-pitch set that allowed Hendricks to begin his preparations for a return at some point during the 2023 Major League Baseball regular season. Monday's session was the first time that Hendricks threw with 100 percent effort since the injury and told reporters including Maddie Lee of the Chicago Sun-Times that he is feeling good.

"“It was a really good day,” Hendricks said Monday, after first full bullpen since last July. “Just to open it up a little bit and still feel really good shoulder health-wise, that’s number one. Felt really, really good, so that’s really promising.” "

Kyle Hendricks via Chicago Sun-Times

Hendricks has been consistent all Spring Training in saying that he is about a month behind his normal schedule and that would place his return to the Major League team around May.

The lack of pitching depth is what attributed to the quick collapse of the Cubs' 2022 season. Toward the end of the season, the Cubs saw rotational pieces develop in Javier Assad, Adrian Sampson, and prospect Hayden Wesneski. All three are in competition for the final spot of the Cubs' starting rotation coming out of Spring Training.

Regardless of who wins the spot, there is no question that the Cubs are now in a place where they can withstand an injury in the starting rotation and do not need Hendricks to return to the form that placed him toward the top of their rotation for several consecutive seasons.

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There are minimal expectations for Hendricks in 2023 and that is an ideal situation for the Cubs as any production they receive from the. the veteran will be considered as a bonus. The focus for Hendricks should be on getting healthy and by the time he is ready to return, there is no doubt that the Cubs have the benefit of being flexible with their pitching staff.