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Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks on 2017: ‘We got the itch’

Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks can’t avoid the recognition for being part of a World Series champion, even in the most unexpected moments.

“Even (Wednesday night), going to throw in these spring games where they announce your name and the crowd erupts because of the World Series,” Hendricks said after pitching four innings of two-run ball against the Diamondbacks. “That wasn’t happening last year. Little things like that make me notice. Something every day is brought to my attention. It’s still changing, and I’m still getting used to that part.”

But after winning the Series and returning to spring training with virtually the same nucleus, Hendricks has a good vibe about his teammates before the Cubs leave their spring training facility.

“We’re feeling the itch,” Hendricks said. “We know it’s getting close, just because we’ve been here for a little bit. We all feel very ready to go, even though tonight wasn’t really great for me. I’m where I need to be, even if the season were to start today. Two weeks is still going to be good, still to get my work and refine things. But we got the itch. We’re ready to go.”

The Cubs have displayed their share of T-shirts and antics during their pre-game workouts, but not with the same frequency as last spring.

“Maybe they’re letting guys police themselves and help the younger guys out till then,” said Hendricks, referring to the fact 50 players remain in camp. “We’ll see what they want to do. But regardless of how they go, we’re talking about it among ourselves and talking about it this season and getting ready for this year. We’re where we need to be.”

Hendricks sensed that the lack of frequent reminders could show a greater emphasis on accountability among the players. Hendricks noticed that during his minor league days with the Texas Rangers.

“They preached accountability and being professional,” Hendricks said. “I think that’s somewhat of a shift in the game. Now you’re seeing it more prominently here in the big league level. It’s just giving the guys the freedom now because you’re seeing the results that come from it.”