Throughout spring training, Cubs minor league pitcher of the year Kyle Hendricks provided a player’s diary of his first big league camp. This is his last entry of the spring.
MESA, Ariz. -- Chicago Cubs minor league pitcher of the year last season, Kyle Hendricks, who is also a Dartmouth grad, has been documenting his first big league spring training with periodic diary entries. He was sent down to minor league camp earlier this month after throwing his best start of the spring against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He went three innings, giving up a soft hit while walking one and striking out four. Here is Hendricks’ last entry of camp as he recalls being sent down:
One of the assistant GMs was in there. And pitching coach Chris Bosio and bench coach Brandon Hyde. They called me into the office. They said they were proud of how I performed, how I prepared for my starts and they said, "We’re sending you down to minor league camp just because you have to get innings. But we were happy with everything you did up here."
I was happy with how I pitched, especially my last outing. I got a lot more comfortable with the speed of the game. Coming back down to minor league camp is good because I can get all my innings in and work on everything I need to work on.
Overall, it was a great experience. It was humbling. It was great being around the veteran guys and I definitely learned a lot.
My best moment on the mound may have been getting Adrian Gonzalez out on a pretty soft ground ball. I faced Yasiel Puig all last year in the minors in Chattanooga. I knew how to pitch him. But seeing all those veterans like Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, Andre Ethier, it was pretty awesome. I grew up watching these guys play and to get them out was great.
As for coming to minor league camp, you definitely lose a little “juice” coming over here because over there you’re pitching in front of 15,000 people and its awesome every time you go out there. On the minor league side there’s maybe 20 people in the stands. But when you come down here it’s more about getting your innings and your stamina up and getting ready for the season. So you’re still locked in. Maybe the adrenaline rush isn’t there, but every time you’re on the mound you have to focus to get better.
Off the field, myself and my roommates have had a bunch of family in town so the last week and half has gone fast. It drags in the middle there, but these last two weeks it’s flown by. It’s great for them because they can watch us up close on these minor league fields and then spend time with us after the games.
And we’ve got a NCAA pool going. The video guys set it up but they put it out like 30 minutes before the games started so I missed it. You know I would have taken Harvard. You have to stick with Ivy League. I would have picked them for the first round. Guys were all entering brackets in that Warren Buffett billion dollar thing. It was pretty funny watching all of them. There’s no perfect brackets left.
Overall it was a great spring for me. Had a lot of fun. I guess my highlight was definitely the Dodgers game. My dad was there to watch along with a couple other friends of the family. I knew it was my last game before going down so I really had a good time and was glad with my outing.
I’m going to try not to think about the major leagues. I’m just going to go down to Triple-A, get my spot in the rotation and get ready every fifth day to pitch. It’s been fun letting you know about my experiences in camp. I had a great time here.