SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Chicago Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks threw five perfect innings Monday while making his second rehab appearance for Double-A Tennessee.
Hendricks, who led the majors last year with a 2.13 ERA for the World Series champions, was optimistic he could be ready to rejoin the Cubs. Hendricks hasn't pitched for Chicago since June 4 because of tendinitis in his right hand.
The right-hander struck out three and threw 43 of his 63 pitches for strikes against the Mobile BayBears, a Los Angeles Angels affiliate. He threw 12 more pitches in a bullpen session after.
''There was no soreness after the last start,'' Hendricks said. ''Hopefully, if there's no soreness tomorrow, I should be good to go.''
Hendricks has described his injury as a ''shooting pain'' that he had felt in the middle part of his middle finger. He said the finger hasn't bothered him in either of his two rehab starts. Hendricks threw 45 pitches on July 10 and allowed one run in 3 1/3 innings.
Hendricks said he felt ''much more confident'' Monday.
''After that first one, that feel wasn't there,'' Hendricks said. ''I just kind of felt uncomfortable being in a game again facing hitters, so there was that little bit of doubt and just trusting the finger a little bit. Knowing how I'd responded after the first one, today I went out there, kind of 100 percent, worked on everything I needed to work on and it felt like a real start.''
The 27-year-old Hendricks is 4-3 with a 4.09 ERA in 11 starts for the Cubs. He went 16-8 last year and finished third in NL Cy Young Award voting.
His return could help solidify a rotation that has struggled more than expected. Chicago already got a boost from the acquisition of former Chicago White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana, who made his Cubs debut Sunday and struck out 12 over seven innings in an 8-0 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.
''He's going to be awesome, perfect for the team,'' Hendricks said. ''His personality's steady. Just the way he pitches, he's consistent. Every time out there, you know what to expect. He's kind of the guy I try to be, honestly. It's going to be cool working with him, learning from him, talking to him and really just getting to know him.''
More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball