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Right hand tendinitis could keep Kyle Hendricks out until the second half

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Kyle Hendricks might not return before the All-Star break, the Cubs’ right-hander told reporters on Saturday. Earlier this month, Hendricks was diagnosed with tendinitis in his right hand, and underwent several MRIs this weekend that confirmed a mild strain in his middle finger. The injury isn’t severe, nor is it expected to keep Hendricks sidelined on a long-term basis, but the Cubs are playing it safe with their starter until he can work his way back to full strength.

Per Hendricks’ comments, the strain still produces a sharp pain in his middle finger when he grips the ball, preventing him from executing any pitch effectively for the time being. Prior to his setback, he went 4-3 in 11 starts, pitching to a 4.09 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 61 2/3 innings. It’s a steep drop-off from his 2.13 ERA in 2016, one that put him in the running for both NL Cy Young and MVP consideration.

A timetable has yet to be set for Hendricks’ return to the roster, and he’ll need at least one minor league rehab start before he’s cleared to reclaim his spot on the pitching staff. In his absence, the Cubs will continue to look to left-hander Mike Montgomery to handle the back end of the rotation. Montgomery earned two no-decisions in his first two starts of the year, issuing five runs on nine hits and four walks and striking out nine of 41 batters over nine innings.

Mike Fiers may not be ready for start of regular season due to back issue

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Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports that Tigers starter Mike Fiers is dealing with a back issue and may not be ready for the start of the season. Manager Ron Gardenhire characterized the injury as a “stiff back” and added, “Maybe a little bit of a bulging disk or something like that.”

Fiers, 32, signed a one-year, $6 million deal with the Tigers in December. He has had a forgettable spring, yielding 12 runs on 10 hits and eight walks with seven strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings.

Fiers had a rotation spot locked up along with Michael Fulmer, Jordan Zimmermann, and Francisco Liriano. Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris were battling it out for the No. 5 spot. If Fiers opens the regular season on the 10-day disabled list, both could have spots in the rotation.