July 21, 2024

Hendricks threw his first bullpen of spring training on Thursday and is planning live batting practice.
Mesa, Arizona — Cubs manager Craig Counsell made it plain in his press conference to open off spring training that he would not be making any earth-shattering announcements. Those grace movie screens, but are “a big misconception” in the real sports world, according to him.

His chats with pitchers and catchers have nevertheless struck a chord.

“Just love the message that’s coming across,” veteran pitcher Kyle Hendricks told reporters Thursday. “It’s just simple, but we’re all in it together with one goal, basically, and very intent-based with our work.”

Reliever Julian Merryweather told the Sun-Times that he admires Counsell’s drive.

“Very calm, confident,” Merryweather stated. “I’m really direct with you. If you ask him questions, he will give you honest answers, which I like. And it appears that everything is going to go well this year in terms of how he will use the bullpen and develop that group. And we’re all quite excited to deploy the troops.


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Pitching coach Tommy Hottovy has been impressed by Counsell’s attention to detail.

“He’s on top of a lot of things,” Hottovy explained. “And he can switch between chats. You may be having a pitching conversation with him, and right next to you, there’s a hitting one, and he’s there in the middle of it.”

Healthy Hendricks

Hendricks threw a bullpen session Thursday and is already set for live batting practice on Saturday. He intends to throw to hitters twice before getting into game action.

The schedule is a pleasant difference for Hendricks following last season, when he was still working up to throwing off a mound at this point in spring training due to a shoulder ailment the year before.

“I want to be really ready to go by that first game when I get out there,” he told reporters. “I tend to be a little bit of a slow starter, so I really want to take advantage of these spring games, really get into game mode.”

On Thursday, Hendricks was in a group that included Jameson Taillon, Luke Little, and Edwin Escobar. Justin Steele, Jordan Wicks, and Caleb Kilian followed them into the bullpen.

When questioned if everyone arrived to camp healthy and on time, Counsell stated that no problems had arisen.

“Just the nature of getting guys ready, we’re always going to go a little slower with some guys, a little faster with others,” he went on to say. “But nobody’s opening day is impacted at all right now.”

Many position players arrived early to camp, but the first full-squad exercise is scheduled for next Monday.


“You get punched, so to speak, in this game as a young player. And getting back up and making that adjustment so that you win that matchup the next time, or you win that moment … the next time is kind of what being a major league baseball player is about.” – Craig Counsell


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