The Chicago Cubs won’t be seeing Kyle Hendricks on the mound any time soon.
While the initial report on Hendricks was encouraging that he won’t need surgery on his right shoulder, the timeline for the veteran’s return suggests late August is his best case scenario.
And even that might be too optimistic. Hendricks will be closed for at least two to three weeks, manager David Ross said Wednesday, before beginning a pitching progression.
“So it’s going to take a while,” Ross said.
Once Hendricks is cleared to throw, playing catch would be the first step, eventually escalating to long pitches and then bullpen sessions. He would likely need at least one rehab start in the minors before coming off the disabled list.
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Hendricks, 32, left his July 5 start against the Milwaukee Brewers after three innings. for discomfort in the right shoulder. He took 12 days off between starts in early June due to a nagging shoulder in hopes the extended layoff would solve the problem.
An MRI last week showed no structural problems.but the injury will cost Hendricks weeks on the disabled list.
Hendricks’ injury means more starts for right-hander Adrian Sampson and continued opportunities for left-hander Justin Steele and right-hander Keegan Thompson to prove they’re starters every day.
“They’re doing a really good job of it,” Ross said. “And so it’s the next guy kind of mentality. It sucks for Kyle, it sucks for us, but we’ll mind our own business and he’ll be back as soon as he can.”
Four Cubs starters — Wade Miley, Marcus Stroman, Drew Smyly and Hendricks — will have missed more than a month this season due to various injuries. Stroman and Smyly returned last weekend in Los Angeles, while Miley, who has been on the disabled list since June 11 with a left shoulder strain, has progressed only to play catch.
The Cubs expected to rely heavily on that quartet of veterans entering the season, which could make the rotation a strength after last year’s lackluster production from their starters. However, Hendricks, Miley, Stroman and Smyly combined to start just 40 of the Cubs’ 88 games with a combined 4.56 ERA in 199⅓ innings.
“If you want to go down that road of, well, if everyone was healthy, we’d be really good, I don’t mind playing that game,” Ross said. “Everyone goes through adversity and we have to find a way to win. Give opportunities to other guys.”