Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks struggles in first rehab start

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Atlanta Braves v Chicago Cubs / Jamie Sabau/GettyImages

It was a rough return to the mound for Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks as he made his first minor-league rehab assignment start with the Iowa Cubs on Thursday.

The results are not terribly important for Hendrick as he made his start in a professional baseball game since last July and that was the tone he had after the game while meeting with reporters including Tommy Birch of the Des Moines Register.

""I felt healthy," Hendricks said following the outing. "So that was the accomplishment. Other than that, it was good to be back out there, back in a real game, get the feel of it, the flow of the game, the speed of the game, all that. So, I've got some work to do.""

Kyle Hendricks via Des Moines Register

If anything, Hendricks' start on Thursday night served as a reminder that this could be a longer assignment for the lone standout from the Cubs' 2016 World Series-winning team.

Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks struggled in his rehab assignment start.

Hendricks' return to the Major League rotation will also signal a change in his role with the team. Hendricks has long been considered the ace of the Cubs rotation but now on a pitching staff that includes Marcus Stroman, Justin Steele, and Jameson Taillon, the ceiling for the 33-year-old Hendricks is a serviceable starting pitcher at the backend of the rotation.

It will be interesting to see the decision the Cubs make once Hendricks is ready to return. Given the success that veteran Drew Smyly has had to begin the season, it is safe to say that his spot in the team's starting rotation is secured. Rookie Hayden Wesneski has had a roller coaster start to the 2023 season and if that inconsistency continues, the veteran Hendricks could replace him in the rotation while the rookie returns to Triple-A Iowa.

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