Many observers have noted Matt Szczur‘s exceptional play the last two seasons. That includes several scouts and Cubs teammate Kyle Hendricks.
“Playing with him coming up, I knew the type of ballplayer he was going to be,” Hendricks said after Szczur hit a two-run home run Monday to cap an all-around performance against the Rockies.
Szczur, who is out of minor-league options, went 3-for-4 with a bunt single, the homer and a running catch in the right-field corner to rob Tyler Anderson of two RBIs to end the fourth.
“It’s pretty special to see that work ethic out of a guy,” Hendricks said. “He works his tail off. It’s not a surprise to see how complete his game is and how big of an asset he can be to any team.
“He’s always gotten better. He’s made noticeable strides, noticeable development. You see the results.”
Plan B and C: Hendricks extended his streak of not walking a batter in exhibition play to 13 2/3 innings despite not having an effective changeup until the fifth.
“When I wasn’t feeling my changeup early, I used my fastball in and out and elevated well with it a couple times,” Hendricks said after striking out four in 4 2/3 innings. “And I was still able to use my curve. It’s promising to see that, when you don’t have your go-to pitch or have a great feel for it and you can still get away with some things.”
Hendricks has felt more comfortable throwing his curve in any count, especially when behind and to right-handed hitters. His goal is to reach 200 innings after pitching 190 last season.
“Especially with this staff, everyone holds each other accountable,” Hendricks said. “I definitely want to be on that bandwagon.”
Extra innings: Outfielder Eloy Jimenez, the Cubs’ top prospect, was diagnosed with a bone bruise and will rest his right shoulder for at least three weeks. … Eddie Butler will throw in a minor-league game Tuesday and Jon Lester on Wednesday.