For Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks, thinking about what a second career Opening Day start would mean to him is best saved for another time.
"Whoever gets the ball that first game, we're really excited to go take the field with the guys and be playing to win," Hendricks told reporters Wednesday in Arizona. "That's the bottom line.
“We really don't care who it is. It just marks the start of ‘Okay here we go, starting the journey,’ and our focus is always on where we want to end.
“It's a nice nod, but I think it's something after your career you may look at.”
That may be the case, but Hendricks, the Cubs’ presumptive Opening Day starter, took another step towards that April 1 outing on Wednesday. The 31-year-old threw 3 1/3 innings against the Padres (his longest outing this spring), allowing two runs on four hits, walking one with four strikeouts.
The extent of the damage off Hendricks came via a single, triple and sac fly allowed in the third inning. But those results aside, the right-hander’s pitch count was key on Wednesday.
Hendricks said stamina wise, getting through 70 pitches “was pretty easy,” while noting he wants to be more efficient. Next start, he’ll throw around 85 pitches, he added.
“I feel in a good spot,” Hendricks said. “I’m ready to go.”
Hendricks is in line for two more starts this spring, March 22 and 27. That puts him on track to start Opening Day, although David Ross hasn’t officially named a starter yet, saying Monday that will happen “soon.”
When asked whether he’s had that conversation with Ross, Hendricks laughed and played things coy.
“I think I'm ready to go for the start of the season," said the pitcher who threw a complete game shutout last Opening Day. “That's on Rossy. I'm pretty sure he'll let [the media] know what the news is on that.”
Maddie Lee contributed to the reporting of this story.