NEW YORK — What was supposed to be a minor injury and a quick return has become a bigger problem for Kyle Hendricks and a Cubs rotation built on faulty projections.
Hendricks experienced discomfort on Tuesday while testing his right hand during a throwing session, the tendinitis lingering to the point where the Cubs have already deleted their target date and ruled him out for this weekend’s series against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park.
“We want him to throw a baseball and just feel the baseball and not feel anything in his hand,” manager Joe Maddon said. “So we’re pushing it back again. There’s no definitive timeframe, no finish line. It just that he’s not ready.”
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The night before at Citi Field, the New York Mets launched the 17th, 18th and 19th homers off John Lackey this season as his ERA ballooned to 5.26 during a 6-1 loss. The Hendricks news means Eddie Butler will start Friday in Pittsburgh, followed by Jake Arrieta — who is not expected to miss his turn in the rotation with a cut on his right thumb — and then Lackey.
The Cubs have only 23 quality starts through 63 games and a 4.75 rotation ERA. A 31-32 team looking for any kind of spark or sense of momentum will need a healthy and productive Hendricks, a National League Cy Young Award finalist and World Series Game 7 starter last year.
“They’re going to reevaluate right now,” Maddon said. “I don’t know exactly where it’s going to go next. I would not be surprised if it was re-tested. Kyle, of course, was disappointed, because we all thought it would be pretty good by today, but it wasn’t. Again, I don’t think it’s awful, either.
“But the big thing is we don’t want Kyle to pitch out there feeling anything except the baseball.”