No looking back for Cubs pitcher, former Rangers prospect Hendricks

ARLINGTON, Texas - Kyle Hendricks made his first visit to Globe Life Park on Opening Day.

It's not exactly a homecoming for Hendricks this weekend. It's more a case of what might have been.

In 2011, Hendricks was an eighth-round draft choice of the Texas Rangers. A little more than a year later, he was traded to the Chicago Cubs after pitching in 41 games in the Rangers' minor-league system.

Hendricks made his big-league debut with the Cubs in 2014 and has gone 52-33 with a 3.44 ERA. He won the National League ERA title in 2016 and started Game 7 of the World Series that year.

He took a look around the visitors clubhouse on Opening Day and reiterated how happy he was about signing a four-year contract extension with the Cubs a few days ago.

Specifically, he talked of his love for Chicago.

"It starts with the fans, obviously," he said. "From Day 1 when I showed up, that first year we struggled a little bit but always sold out. That was the first thing I noticed - the energy, just being able to play in Wrigley Field every single day, the tradition and just the people we have around this organization from top to bottom. It's just first class. Everybody in the city, everybody in this organization has treated me nothing but first class.

"There's nowhere else I'd rather be, and I'm so happy to be able to spend X number of years here."

Hendricks will make his first start of the season Monday night in Atlanta.

Good to go (deep):

Third baseman Kris Bryant homered in his final at-bat on Opening Day. The drive was an opposite-field shot to right center.

It looked like Bryant might have had one in the first inning, but his high drive to left was caught short of the wall in left field, perhaps victim of the wind.

More important, Bryant reiterated that his left shoulder felt fine. The ailment limited him to 102 games and 13 homers last season.

"I probably should have had 2 (homers)," he said. "The first one, I hit even better. But maybe it got too far up in the wind."

Favorable first impression:

Expect to see Kyle Schwarber start in left field for the final two games of the Rangers series. Manager Joe Maddon went with rookie Mark Zagunis in left on Opening Day.

Zagunis had a "hustle" double in the fifth inning of the Cubs' 12-4 victory. Schwarber batted for him in the sixth. Manager Joe Maddon praised Zagunis, who came into the game with 12 games over major-league experience with the Cubs over the past two seasons.

"To get him out there and get him involved, he knows he belongs here now," Maddon said. "In spring training, it was very reflective of that because for years we've been hearing about him as a minor-league player. He got into camp and we saw all that same stuff happening. He's hit better. He's played better defense. He always runs the bases pretty good. If we get him involved this quickly, it should help him in the early part of the season."

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