Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks expected demotion after ‘terrible’ starts

CHICAGO — Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks is taking his demotion to the bullpen in stride, stating he’s looking forward to the new “challenge.”

“I’m honestly excited for the opportunity and the challenge, in a way,” Hendricks said Wednesday afternoon. “It’s been great being down there with the guys for a game. … It’s about giving the team the best chance to win at the end of the day. That’s all I’m trying to be about.”

Hendricks, 34, struggled this season as a starter, posting a 10.57 ERA in seven games. He’ll head to the bullpen for the first time in his career after making 253 starts, all with the Cubs. His lone career relief appearance came back in 2016, which also was the year he led the MLB with a 2.13 ERA.

“I’ve picked a lot of guys’ brains that have done both,” Hendricks said. “I picked up a lot of good nuggets already.”

The Cubs don’t have a defined role for Hendricks, but he said he told manager Craig Counsell he is ready for anything. Hendricks said he knew change was on the horizon after such a rough start to the year for him.

“You expect something to happen,” he said. “It was just going terrible, obviously. You can’t put up those kinds of results.”

Hendricks gave up 50 hits in just 30⅔ innings as a starter, including 10 home runs. He said he is hopeful he can contribute to a winning team and fix his game at the same time. The Cubs are currently in second place in the National League Central.

“The only way to really work on stuff is out there in a game, out there with a hitter in the box, seeing how my stuff is playing and getting outs,” Hendricks said. “That’s where I’m going to know if it’s right or wrong.”

Hendricks is the lone player remaining from the Cubs’ 2016 World Series team. A fan favorite, he is just weeks away from passing the 10-year mark in the big leagues. He was asked if he has contemplated his future if things continue to go south on the mound for him.

“You think about that for a while,” he said. “I’m so lucky and grateful, all the time I’ve gotten here in Chicago. Playing in front of the best fans in the world at Wrigley Field. I’m taking it one day at time. Whenever that day comes, we’ll approach that head on. I’m trying to stay in the moment and see where it takes me.”

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