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Kyle Hendricks reflects on the moments that led to his stellar outing in San Francisco

1 year agoTony Andracki

Kyle Hendricks came just a few outs shy of etching his name in the MLB history books forever.

He still put together a stellar start, with the longest no-hit bid in baseball this season (7.2 IP). His 8 shutout innings brought his season line down to a 3.09 ERA and 1.07 WHIP in his first 4 starts back.

Hendricks missed nearly a year with a shoulder injury, hitting the shelf last July and returning on May 25.

As he joined the Marquee Sports Network broadcast Sunday afternoon, Hendricks reflected on the moments that led to one of the best outings of his career.

When Hendricks went down last season, he initially hoped to return before the end of the year. But with a capsular tear in his shoulder, he was ultimately shut down and ended up seeing Dr. Keith Meister, the head team physician for the Texas Rangers and an orthopedic doctor who specializes in arm injuries.

It was Meister who laid out a recovery plan for Hendricks and the Cubs and he also talked the veteran right-hander out of surgery to address the issue.

Meister preached patience and drove home the point that if Hendricks had surgery, he would have to add an extra year onto his recovery.

“Once he told me that, I was like, OK, I’ll take this prescription, I’ll be as patient as I can,” Hendricks said on Sunday’s broadcast. “Once I started to get into baseball activities, it obviously got a lot easier.”

So after his sparkling outing Saturday, Hendricks made sure to reach out to Meister.

“I actually texted him today,” Hendricks said. “I just said, ‘I feel compelled to send you a text today. I just can’t thank you enough for the guidance and support and everything you did for me over this last year.’

“He really guided me in the right direction, obviously. Things have worked out great. I owe him so much to just being back out here in general.”

Saturday also marked the first time Hendricks called all of his own pitches using PitchCom. With rookie catcher Miguel Amaya behind the plate (the second time the pair teamed up to form the Cubs battery), Hendricks called his own game.

“I was way into it,” he said. “With the new pitch clock, you need the rhythm and the timing. We’re just working out the kinks here. But obviously I felt pretty good about it yesterday.”

This could be the start of something with the Cubs, where a veteran-laden staff may wind up calling their own pitches more often moving forward.

“When you’re calling it, you’re really committed to it, obviously,” Hendricks said. “You get that full conviction behind it. And if you’re calling it yourself, there’s kinda that little added, ‘I better execute this. If I’m the one calling it, it’s all on me. I better get it right.’

“There’s a little bit more pressure on it but it just really locks you in. Once you find that rhythm, it really helps.”

Hendricks also gave Amaya a ton of credit, telling Boog Sciambi and Rick Sutcliffe how the tandem made adjustments early in Saturday’s contest. Hendricks and Amaya recognized the good swings the Giants were taking in the first 3 innings and noticed the hitters were on top of the plate, so they started establishing the inside corner as the game wore on.

“The adjustments we made in between innings with Miggy was huge,” Hendricks said.

Hendricks took a lesson from Sutcliffe too, he said, as he worked to gain his feel for his changeup. During his warm-up throws in between innings, Hendricks threw his changeup as much as possible to get that feel back — and it worked, as the pitch became a major weapon for him in the middle and later innings.

Beyond his own outing, Hendricks talked about the impact of young players like Christopher Morel and Matt Mervis, the sense of urgency within the Cubs clubhouse and how his teammates helped support him throughout his long road back to the mound.

Check out the entire interview in the video above with Hendricks during the 3rd inning of Sunday’s series finale in San Francisco.

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