Cubs put pitchers Kyle Hendricks (back), Drew Smyly (hip) on IL

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs placed struggling right-hander Kyle Hendricks on the injured list Tuesday with lower back pain.

Hendricks, 34, has a 12.00 ERA over his first five starts, which include a league-high eight home runs, 37 hits and 28 earned runs.

Cubs manager Craig Counsell said Hendricks felt something in his back as he was warming up for his start Sunday against the Marlins. He lasted four innings, giving up four runs on six hits. The outing actually lowered his league-high ERA.

"We have to get past the injury first, then put our heads together on a plan to get him pitching better," manager Craig Counsell said Tuesday afternoon.

Counsell was asked if this could be the end of the line for the longest-tenured Cub and only remaining member of the 2016 World Series championship team. Hendricks is set to be a free agent at the end of the season.

"No, I don't think that at all," Counsell said. "Kyle is not pitching the way he wants to pitch. Kyle has high expectations for himself. When we get past this injury, he'll go back to work. He'll commit to him doing everything he can."

The Cubs recalled right-hander Hayden Wesneski to replace Hendricks on the roster. Either he or Ben Brown could take his spot in the rotation, though Counsell wouldn't commit to anything just yet. The team is beginning a stretch of 16 games in 16 days and will need a fifth starter later in the week.

The Cubs also placed reliever Drew Smyly on the injured list with right hip impingement, which he began to feel at the end of the Cubs' last road trip in Phoenix. He pitched effectively on Sunday but will need time to heal.

"He was pitching with it while he was out there," Counsell said.

Additionally, the team recalled left-handed first baseman Matt Mervis while designating righty Garrett Cooper for assignment. The latter became expendable when corner infielder Patrick Wisdom was activated from the injured list recently. The Cubs wanted a more even split of righties and lefties on the bench.

"The thought was similar players on the roster," Counsell said of Wisdom and Cooper. "And we're facing a lot of right-handed pitching."

Mervis is in his second stint with the Cubs after tearing up Triple-A pitching last season. He struggled in his initial call-up in 2023, hitting just .167 in 27 games. His role will be to back up rookie Michael Busch, who is off to a hot start for Chicago.

"I think it's a little different this time," Counsell said of Mervis getting recalled. "He has the experience of that to help him. And it's coming up in a difference spot. The expectations are different."

The Cubs are hosting the Astros this week before heading out on the road to face the Boston Red Sox and New York Mets.

Chicago outfielder Cody Bellinger exited Tuesday night's 7-2 win over Houston with a right rib contusion after colliding with the center-field wall while tracking a fly ball hit by Yainer Diaz that went for a double and scored Kyle Tucker.

He stayed in the game for several innings, taking his at-bat in the fifth, before being replaced by Alex Canario in the top of the seventh.

X-rays were negative, according to Counsell. Bellinger hit his fifth home run of the season in the first inning and downplayed the injury when speaking to reporters.

"It's a very dull pain, even now," Bellinger said. "That's a good sign. At first, I didn't feel anything. ... We're going to have to check on the wall. See if the wall is OK first."