MESA, Ariz. — Working back from injury, Kyle Hendricks keeps his focus on the long game.

For the last three Cubs Opening Days, Kyle Hendricks has taken the mound. That won’t be the case this spring, as the longest-tenured Cub is still working his way back from a capsular tear in his right shoulder.

“I’m not going to be too far behind, I normally start throwing bullpens in January, and I’ll start touching the mound next week,” Hendricks said of his rehab schedule. “I’m not too far behind, but our focus is on end of year. [The Cubs] made some awesome additions, so I know we can cover the first 4-to-6 weeks or whatever it happens to be. The staff we put together, so many veteran guys that have been through it. I’m excited to join this group whenever it happens to be and have that focus on end the end of the year.”

The mental grind of not touching a baseball for six months was the toughest part for Hendricks. But the last link to the Cubs World Series is also out to prove he can still pitch at a high level after two down seasons where his ERA was above 4.70.

“Obviously, I’ve not been who I want to be the last couple of years and that’s personal,” Hendricks said. “You want to go out there and prove to yourself what you can do, but it helps a lot having these guys around you. To see the group we’ve put together it makes it very easy to get excited, and I have to be a part of this. So doing everything I can and really attacking my program.”

With so many of his former teammates now on different organizations through trade or free agency, does Hendricks want to be a Cub for life

“Obviously that would be goal of mine, to stay here, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. At end of day though that’s something hard to focus on,” Hendricks said. “I’m just trying to take care of what I can control. I want to be who I am and get back on that winning way being that guy every 5th day for my team and just winning ball games. I know if I take care of that hopefully everything else will take care of itself. There’s no better place in the world, and Cubs fans are number one. I would love absolutely to be here for years to come.”