CHICAGO – Kyle Hendricks will start Opening Day for the Cubs, getting the nod over Yu Darvish.
“I told him in the room with everybody which was probably a little bit anticlimactic, so I called him back in and was like, ‘Hey man, just so you know this was a lot more important to me to tell you on a man to man basis,” explained first-year manager David Ross. “I gave him my feelings about him and what I think he represents for our group. He’s like, ‘Oh that don’t matter to me. I’m excited and can’t wait to go.’ You know him. He’s nonchalant. No big deal. It may have been a bigger deal to tell him than it was for him to hear the news.”
“It means a ton to me, obviously,” noted Hendricks. “I thanked him over and over. But, it’s on me now to come through for that. I put in a lot of hard work, not only this past offseason but during the time off in quarantine. Changed my routine workout wise, so I feel stronger than ever before. I want to be that guy for me team. Be out there. Take the ball every fifth day and go deep. Go deep in games and eat up innings.”
Hendricks has been one of the Cubs most consistent pitchers since his major league debut in 2014. The right-hander, acquired in the July 2012 trade that sent Ryan Dempster to Texas, is 63-43 with a 3.14 ERA in 163 games over six seasons.
It’s the first opening-day start for Hendricks, who went 11-10 with a 3.46 ERA in 30 starts last season.
Darvish will start the second game. The Japanese right-hander finished strong last year, compiling a 2.76 ERA and striking out 118 in 81 2/3 innings over his final 13 starts.