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Friday, March 7, 2014
Hendricks diary: First start 'exhilarating'

By Kyle Hendricks

Chicago Cubs 2013 minor league Pitcher of the Year Kyle Hendricks is writing a player diary for ESPNChicago.com during his first spring training in big-league camp. In his latest edition he details his first start of the spring against the Oakland A's this past Tuesday. He pitched two innings giving up a run on one hit and three walks while striking out two.

MESA, Ariz. -- On Tuesday I got to the ballpark around 7 a.m. I went out for team stretch at 9 a.m. and then went back into the clubhouse to relax. Around 12:15 p.m. I made my way over to the stadium to start warming up for my start. I went through my normal pregame prep and then started my throwing routine. I didn't really go over hitters because we don't know what the lineup will be before the game. I did watch a little video on some of the A's big-name guys in case they were in the lineup though.

Kyle Hendricks
Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks says he didn't have his best stuff in his first big-league spring training game on Tuesday.
Before the game it was honestly not much different than any game I had pitched in the minors. There were some nerves, but it was more just excitement to throw in the new stadium in a big-league game. (Pitching coach Chris) Bosio just talked to me a little bit about holding runners on and then let me go through my routine as I normally would.

It was extremely exhilarating but also humbling being able to pitch in my first big-league spring training game. Unfortunately, it was one of those days where I didn't have my best stuff. I was disappointed with my fastball command, but was happy with being able to minimize and only give up one run.

I think it was also good to work on some different stuff with runners on base. Pitching out of the stretch is when you're really going to have to make good pitches because you want to prevent runs from scoring. I'm glad I got to work on different times to the plate and a pick play at second base. At the end of the second inning my mechanics started to improve and I began making more pitches where I wanted to.

The best part of the whole experience was having my dad there. He has done so much for me in my career to get me to this point, and I'm just happy he could be there to watch my first big-league experience. Both my mom and dad will be able to come over to see my next start as well.

I'm looking forward to getting back to work and improving every day to get ready for that next start. Hopefully my command will be better and I will start to feel more in midseason form than this first start.