Focused Hendricks happy with spring progress

Maddon to manage catching workload of Montero; Arrieta set for Triple-A game Saturday

Focused Hendricks happy with spring progress

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Kyle Hendricks didn't keep up the strikeout pace he had in his previous outings, but he did get the results he wanted. The right-hander had struck out 11 over nine innings in his three earlier spring outings, and in Friday's 3-2 loss to the White Sox, he fanned three over five innings.

"Not as many [strikeouts] but still weak contact, getting off the end of the bat or jammed, so that shows I'm hitting some spots at least and the ball's moving right," Hendricks said. "I'm not focused on the strikeouts. It's good I'm getting balls in play, keep the pitch count down for me."

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The White Sox were aggressive against him.

"You like when guys swing," Hendricks said. "The hitters tell you what your stuff is doing -- your fastball and secondary stuff. To get guys up there hacking and to miss a couple bats, get some bad contact was a positive."

Hendricks, who appears to be securing the fifth spot in the Cubs' rotation, gave up two hits -- both in the third inning.

Jason Hammel likes pitching to Kyle Schwarber, and manager Joe Maddon said he may pair the two together this season, but it wouldn't be an exclusive match, the way Jon Lester and David Ross are.

The Cubs want Schwarber's bat in the lineup, and it will most likely be more as an outfielder. Still, to continue his development as a catcher and keep Miguel Montero fresh, Schwarber could find himself behind the plate more this season than last year.

"I don't want to run Montero into the ground," Maddon said. "If you talk to Miggy, I know he's going to want to catch every day. My opinion and impression is the fresher we keep them now, the more we'll benefit and he's going to benefit. Stuff happens, guys get hurt, whatever."

Maddon also likes the depth at catcher in the Cubs' system with Willson Contreras, Tim Federowicz and Taylor Davis.

"We have some nice alternatives that we didn't have last year," Maddon said. "We're thicker there."

• National League Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta will tune up for Opening Day by pitching in a Triple-A game on Saturday at the Cubs' complex at 2 p.m. CT.

• On the injury front, Ben Zobrist, sidelined with an ingrown toenail, is expected to be back in the Cubs' lineup Saturday night when they face the Indians.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.