Kyle Hendricks told reporters in Mesa he is scheduled to throw a touch-and-feel bullpen on Friday, which will be the first time he’s worked off the mound since being shut down last July due to a capsular tear in his right shoulder. The plan to this point has been very conservative and Hendricks has shortened his arm swing to reduce stress on the shoulder in an effort to avoid surgery. The tear can’t fully heal without a corrective procedure, but there are ways to mitigate ill effects in the meantime.
His bullpen will be an abbreviated one meant to ease him into the next phase of his program, which should include another two or three sessions before he’s ready to ramp up the intensity. Hendricks says he is only about a month behind his normal schedule at this point, which means it’s possible he could be activated by the end of April as long as everything goes well.
That seems pretty far-fetched, however, as the long layoff and new mechanics complicate things beyond what was already going to be a tough injury to overcome. Elbows get all the hype when it comes to pitchers, but reconstruction has become so commonplace that a blown UCL isn’t thought of as career-ending. The shoulder is a whole different animal though, and it’s nowhere near as easy to come back from an issue like what Hendricks has.
As much as I want to believe The Professor can get back to his pre-2021 form at some point, I’m not even willing to declare myself cautiously optimistic. At this point, I’ll be pleasantly surprised if he can return as a solid back-end rotation option.