Hendricks Adding Velo, Darvish Good to Go, 26th Man, Prospect Thoughts, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Hendricks Adding Velo, Darvish Good to Go, 26th Man, Prospect Thoughts, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

No Spring Training for me this year. Unfortunately, due to concerns about traveling right now, I won’t be heading to Arizona as previously planned. It sucks, because it’s one of my favorite times every year, but I just don’t want to risk getting stuck somewhere or, worse, bringing anything back with me.

And if you consider people like me a bellwether, I think you can expect a sharp uptick in people cancelling travel and events in the coming days and weeks. This is probably going to cause major disruptions in the months ahead, and I’m increasingly trying to figure out how this won’t impact the baseball season in a number of unhappy ways.

Meanwhile …

  • Kyle Hendricks, 30, last touched 89 mph in the early part of the season back in 2015. As he settled into the masterful pitcher he would become, that just wasn’t his range in March or April, and really he only infrequently would even touch that number in the summer. He did not average 89 mph in any start the last three years. Yet he threw several fastballs at 89 mph in his last SPRING TRAINING start. It was notable for so many reasons, not the least of which is that he was clearly not just chucking the ball. He was doing his normal, relaxed thing, and probably even moreso in an early Spring Training game.
  • It was probably not a coincidence, either, as Hendricks overhauled his personal training program this offseason, telling The Score he focused on changes he’d needed to make for a while – and any velocity bump would only be a happy byproduct: “My shoulder feels real stable and strong. My legs was a big focus for me; I feel stronger. Not necessarily trying to gain velo, but just trying to make sure my mechanics are solid and it’s easily repeatable. If velo happens to come from that, from what I’m doing and what I changed, that would be great. Just your body motion, stability throughout your entire body. Doing athletic movements on the side. Not just pushing weight in the weight room. Working through athletic movements so you’re more in your body. So, by the time I go through my whole motion, I know where my body is at all times and I can rely on that feedback. Sometimes when you’re not strong enough in the right positions, you’ll roll through your windup and you’re not quite sure where you even were or where your arm was at. You’re just a little off. I just feel really good in my body right now. The things I’ve done this offseason feel great.”
  • If you’ll forgive me, I’m just gonna be over here fantasizing about a Kyle Hendricks who has his normal superlative command and nasty changeup, but who also sits at 91 mph with his two-seamer instead of 87 mph. #CyYoung
  • Speaking of guys who could be silly good in 2020 … The good news is that after his scare with the flu (negative), Yu Darvish is expected to make his next “spring” start today, in a simulated fashion. Often you see that happen with healthy veteran pitchers anyway. Also, what can you say about Darvish’s Twitter skills that haven’t already been said – dude is silly and clever:

  • Hoping to get some clarity on the Cubs’ bench plans? Nope, not yet. Here’s David Ross on the 26th man, via Cubs.com: “I just want someone that complements the rest of the team. Maybe something different. I don’t want to have six utility guys. Maybe we have a power bat on the bench or a speed guy or a backup catcher, a third catcher. We’re still looking at all those options.” So basically … it could still be pretty much any style of player. The first round of cuts are likely coming soon, though, and we’ll start to winnow things down.
  • More from Hendricks on a David Ross camp:

  • Still going today:

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.