8/14/2014 12:39 A.M. ET
Study habits paying off for Ivy Leaguer Hendricks
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Facing big league hitters is a lot easier than the abstract algebra class Kyle Hendricks took in his final semester at Dartmouth.
"It sounds kind of simple, with 'algebra' in the name of it, but it was the hardest class by far that I took at Dartmouth," Hendricks said.
The Cubs pitcher, who did complete his economics degree at the Ivy League school, has applied his study techniques to baseball. He begins to prep before his starts with the scouting report supplied by coach Mike Borzello and one of the Cubs' advance scouts. He'll watch some video, and two days before his game, Hendricks will watch film of the opponent's recent games.
"Guys are always changing their approaches, changing their swings, so I like to watch recent stuff," Hendricks said.
The day before his start, Hendricks will watch every hitters' at-bat to see what he's trying to do.
"I just try to sear the game plan into my mind by watching a ton of video," Hendricks said. "That way, when I'm on the mound, I don't have to think about, 'What was this guy supposed to do again?' It's just kind of there because of watching so much video.
"It's studying for sure. You're looking at the hitters. The scouting report is just a bunch of words. You have to read it and have to be able to retain it. It's fun studying, it's not like school. It's fun sitting there watching hitters. You're watching baseball."
Doing his homework has paid off. Hendricks notched his fifth quality start on Tuesday in a 3-0 win over the Brewers.
Give credit, too, to Rangers Minor League pitching coach Brad Holman, who was Hendricks' mentor at the high Class A level. The right-hander said he sat next to Holman every day in the dugout to pick his brain and talk pitching.
"He was unbelievable and he did a lot for me to get to this point," Hendricks said.
There are others. Iowa pitching coach Bruce Walton was a huge help this year, Hendricks said, as is Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio.
But Hendricks deserves a lot of the credit himself. He was named the Cubs' 2013 Minor League Pitcher of the Year, then returned to Dartmouth to finish his classes.
"The best part was the professors -- they're willing to help you any time, any day," Hendricks said. "It's the same here. [The coaches] are great, they put together scouting reports, talk about the hitters. It's very similar."
Why Dartmouth? Because baseball coach Bob Whalen promised Hendricks he could pitch his freshman year and would be one of the Big Green's weekend starters.
"That's all I wanted to do, was play," Hendricks said.
He left his southern California home and headed east.
"I wouldn't trade it for the world -- the friends I met there and the atmosphere," Hendricks said. "The last thing you think about is the weather. You're there with all your buddies."
So, if he wasn't pitching, what would Hendricks be doing with his degree?
"I'd be looking for a job somewhere," he said, laughing. "I honestly have no idea. I took [economics] because it was kind of interesting to me. I never thought of it as providing a job for me later. My heart was in baseball. Even though I went to Dartmouth for an education, I knew I wanted to play baseball and was going to play baseball. All I needed was the opportunity. There was never a second option for a job."
After first week, Baez learning his way
CHICAGO -- Javier Baez now has one week in the big leagues, and it's been a learning experience.
"As expected, there's been some high highs and some lows," general manager Jed Hoyer said Wednesday of the infielder, ranked No. 2 on MLB.com's list of top 20 Cubs prospects. "He'll probably settle somewhere in the middle."
Baez was promoted last Tuesday in Colorado, and hit three home runs in his first three games, including a game-winning homer in the 12th inning of his debut on Aug. 5, and two homers two days later. In Wednesday's 4-2 victory over the Brewers, Baez hit his first homer at Wrigley Field and went 2-for-4, raising his batting average to .268 with 13 strikeouts in 41 at-bats.
"This is why he's here, so he can play every day and have those experiences," Hoyer said. "The way he is as a player, he'll learn from those things. You can see the talent and see the things he's done well."
The other Cubs players were eager for Baez to be promoted, and Hoyer said he was happy to see them embrace the 21-year-old second baseman.
"It should be a good 45 days or so for him," Hoyer said.
There are no plans to have Baez play at shortstop, which is where he has primarily played in the Minor Leagues.
"I think once Javy gets comfortable there, he'll be a really elite second baseman," Hoyer said. "We know he can play shortstop."
Cubs considering Soler for September callup
CHICAGO -- Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said the front office is currently debating September callups and who will play in the Arizona Fall League. Triple-A Iowa outfielder Jorge Soler is one player being considered for both.
Soler, ranked No. 6 on MLB.com's list of top 20 Cubs prospects, was injured much of the first half of the season, but has been getting regular at-bats, and was batting .300 in 20 games.
"[Soler] has been playing great, and is locked in now, and great at-bats, great attitude, playing good defense," Hoyer said. "We have to decide if he's had enough at-bats or not."
C.J. Edwards, ranked No. 7 on the Cubs' top 20 list, was expected to pitch in the AFL, which starts Oct. 7.
As for September callups, Hoyer said who gets promoted may depend on whether Iowa makes the Pacific Coast League playoffs.
"They worked hard down there," Hoyer said. "We don't want to raid them and leave them with nothing if they do make the playoffs."
• Outfielder Nate Schierholtz was released and will become a free agent by Friday. Schierholtz was designated for assignment on Aug. 6 after batting .192 in 99 games with six home runs, 10 doubles and 33 RBIs.
• The Cubs were encouraged by Felix Doubront's first rehab start with Triple-A Iowa. Doubront threw 80 pitches over four-plus innings on Tuesday night against Las Vegas. He has been on the disabled list since July 31 with a left calf strain.
"With him, he has to work his way back," Hoyer said. "We do look at it similarly to where [Jake] Arrieta was [last year]. [Doubront] is a guy who has had moments of success in the AL East. Getting his confidence and stuff back is important."
The left-hander will make at least one more start for Iowa.
• Cubs outfielder Justin Ruggiano did not start Wednesday because of some soreness in his right groin, but he was available to pinch-hit. Ruggiano was pulled from Tuesday's game after seven innings.
• To help Wrigley Field celebrate its 100th anniversary, American rock band O.A.R. will perform an Extra Innings Show as part of a free music event presented by Budweiser on Aug. 23 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. CT, in the Red and Purple Lots on the west side of the ballpark.
O.A.R. will take the stage for a 90-minute post-game set following the conclusion of the Cubs' Interleague game that day against the Orioles.
This summer, O.A.R released their eighth studio album, The Rockville LP, and recently played at the 2014 All-Star game in Minneapolis. Their song, "This Town," is played while the Cubs are introduced before home games.
The event is free to the general public and limited to a first-come, first-served basis.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.