Kyle Hendricks’ infamous poker face didn’t betray his emotions as he warmed up at Wrigley Field for the first time in almost a year, with the cameras forming a semicircle around the mound. But he was immersed in the moment.
After the Cubs lost 10-1 to the Mets, Hendricks said, “It felt so fulfilling to finally get back on that field. Seeing the fans, running with my teammates, it was just the little things.” rice field.
The Cubs fell short of a three-game winning streak, and all eyes were on Hendricks, who made his first major-league start since July 5. The Cubs made their season debut Thursday by taking him off the 15-day disabled list.
“It’s him you’re thinking of [when you think of] It’s the Cubs now,” said catcher Yann Gomez. “He’s the longest-serving player, so it’s great to have someone like him here again.”
Hendricks allowed 5 runs (3 earned) in 4/3 innings. But he showed flashes of what made him great in the past.
“It’s been an emotional day in a way. Everything just stacks up,” Hendricks said. “At the end of the day, just being able to come this far and come back from there was No. 1. It was huge.”
With the season opener, Hendricks became the 12th Cub player to pitch more than 10 seasons for the team. His resume includes ERA titles and World Series titles.
“What I love most about him is that he’s the same person every day,” said director David Ross.
The work Hendricks put into this offseason to shorten the path of his arms, inject more athleticism into his movements and increase his speed wasn’t meant to change him. They were meant to bring back the best version of him and keep him fit after consecutive sluggish seasons.
“Kyle throws the way Kyle throws,” Gomez said of Hendrix, who relies on command rather than overwhelming hitters. “He made a great career out of it.”
Gomez caught Hendricks in Milwaukee last July after he was sidelined with what was then called a sore shoulder. And when Hendrix pitched his first bullpen session this spring, Gomez made sure he was behind the bat, even though he wasn’t scheduled to be in Hendrix’s session.
“I have been to IL many times,” Gomez said. “And sometimes it felt like you were pushed aside and you were running your own program and trying to get people out of the way. I wanted you to feel that there is, he is a “Professor”. He’s big for the Cubs. ”
Gomez was back in the back of the plate Thursday with a full circle. He understood what it took the past 11 months for Hendrix to return to the mound at Wrigley Field.
“My teammates have been supportive the whole time,” Hendricks said. “It helped a lot because it gave me the confidence to go back out and do what I had to do.
Hendricks allowed a first-running double, two walks, and one sack fly in the first inning. After that, he calmed down and pitched a perfect inning with two strikeouts. He allowed four straight singles in soft contact in the third. He then left the side in turn. In the fifth inning, he struck out a hitter and allowed a hit. After that he left the game.
“Anyone can pitch if they’re good,” pitching coach Tommy Hotby said before the game. “Whether he’s mechanically out of shape on the pitch or he’s lost a few games, we’d like to see how quickly he can make those adjustments. When he’s at his best, he’s one. If I miss it, I’ll get it back in no time.”
He had not yet returned to the old Hendrix family. But after nearly 11 months out, he wasn’t expected to be back anytime soon.