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Cubs' Kyle Hendricks Struggles To Find Form In Return To Mound

By Chris Emma—

CHICAGO (CBS) – Aerosmith's "Sweet Emotion" sounded through Wrigley Field on Monday, and the Cubs finally had their rotation whole again with right-hander Kyle Hendricks back on the mound.

The Cubs had missed the steady Hendricks, who had been out since June 4 with tendinitis in his throwing hand. After a long layoff and two rehab starts in the minors, the hope for Hendricks wasn't to dominate the White Sox but rather just return to form. The results were mixed.

Hendricks pitched 4 1/3 innings and allowed one run on eight hits in the Cubs' 3-1 loss to the White Sox. He took a no-decision, with Justin Grimm and Koji Uehara each allowing solo homers in relief after Hendricks left beyond his intended pitch count at 92.

The first outing back for Hendricks left more to be desired. He felt that his motion was being rushed and that his command was off. Hendricks didn't have his usual stuff as a result.

"It was good being back out," Hendricks said. "It was fun being out there, fun playing, but it didn't really go the way I wanted it to go. Fastball command was terrible, and that's kind of where everything stems for me. Luckily, my secondary stuff did feel OK. I even threw a few good curveballs. Health-wise, everything felt great, so we'll take that."

Hendricks topped his fastball velocity at just 86.0 miles per hour, the same speed as his sinker. With that brings problems for his entire arsenal, which was a work in progress as he pitched for the first time in the big league in seven weeks.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon agreed with Hendricks' self-assessment.

"I thought he wasn't as normal," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "Velocity was still down a little bit. There wasn't a lot of difference between his pitches. He was not what you would call on.

"It's a good outing to build on."

Fortunately for Hendricks, the Cubs' defense bailed him out. In the third inning, Kris Bryant grabbed a Jose Abreu liner at 103 miles per hour. An inning later, Kyle Schwarber laid out for a low liner to take away a hit from Adam Engel. But nobody could catch Abreu's rip in the fifth inning that scored Melky Cabrera from first base.

Maddon came to get Hendricks early and was forced to utilize his bullpen. The Cubs' bats couldn't come through, and the series with the White Sox opened with a loss.

At the least, the Cubs have Hendricks back on the mound. Once he settles into a rhythm, they believe better results should follow.

"Today, maybe just being back out there first time on the mound, (the motion) quickened up on me a little bit," Hendricks said. "I just wasn't staying over the rubber well with my backside. Hopefully, just make that adjustment this week, get back to my routine -- I'm a big routine guy -- get back in that feel and hopefully roll from there."

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago's sports scene and more for Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670 and like his Facebook page.

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