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Epstein: Don't expect frontline starter pursuit

Cubs hope to get Yu healthy, improvement from Hendricks, Chatwood
MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

CHICAGO -- Yu Darvish has yet to resume throwing since he received a cortisone shot in his right arm one week ago, but the pitcher's uncertain status does not mean the Cubs are in the market for another frontline starter by the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said Friday.

"You're always looking to fortify and add a little bit, and you always have Plan B and Plan C in case of injury or bad performance," Epstein said. "There's no way we're going to go out and acquire starters the caliber of a locked-in Kyle Hendricks or a locked-in Jose Quintana. The majority of our answers lie within, that's for sure."

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CHICAGO -- Yu Darvish has yet to resume throwing since he received a cortisone shot in his right arm one week ago, but the pitcher's uncertain status does not mean the Cubs are in the market for another frontline starter by the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said Friday.

"You're always looking to fortify and add a little bit, and you always have Plan B and Plan C in case of injury or bad performance," Epstein said. "There's no way we're going to go out and acquire starters the caliber of a locked-in Kyle Hendricks or a locked-in Jose Quintana. The majority of our answers lie within, that's for sure."

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Darvish has not pitched since May 20 with right triceps tendinitis, and he got the cortisone shot after the Rangers' orthopedic specialist diagnosed a right elbow impingement and inflammation one week ago. The Cubs and Darvish mutually agreed that the right-hander needed to see the doctor.

"We're not going to set any timetables until he moves from the strengthening phase to the throwing phase," Epstein said of Darvish. "We have to take it a day at a time."

The Cubs were encouraged that Darvish's exam in Texas showed no structural damage.

"It might not be the timeline we want, but we're very optimistic he'll make a solid contribution," Epstein said.

In his conversation with Darvish on Wednesday, Cubs manager Joe Maddon told the right-hander to take his time.

"I just want him to be well," Maddon said. "That's what I talked to him about specifically. 'It's not about rushing. Just get back out there. Get back in your routine. Get back in your work. Then, as this plays, we'll get you back out there. Of course, we want you back sooner rather than later, but if biology's not going to permit it, it's not going to permit it.'"

The Cubs began play on Friday 1 1/2 games behind the Brewers in the National League Central and have been aggressive the past few years at the Trade Deadline.

"Every year is different with the marketplace and the nature of that team's season," Epstein said. "For us, we're still in the mode of assessing. On the position-player front, right now there's not a lot we'd want to go get. There's not a lot of roster spots to fit guys in. We have guys who have to sit on a given day. It's not like we're actively looking at anything on the position-player side. With the pitching, we'll know a lot more in the next few weeks."

Besides getting Darvish healthy, the Cubs are hoping for improvement from Hendricks (5-8, 4.27 ERA) and Tyler Chatwood (3-5, 4.54 ERA). Quintana (7-6, 4.22 ERA) was 0-2 in five starts before picking up a win on Wednesday.

"I don't think this is the year we're going to be out front beating the market, but I do think industrywide there will be a lot of activity well before the Deadline," Epstein said.

Bryant on the mend
Kris Bryant was smiling. That's because the Cubs' third baseman had a good day in the batting cages on Friday and may be close to returning from the disabled list. He has been sidelined since June 23 because of inflammation in his left shoulder. He had an MRI last week when the team was in Los Angeles.

"The shoulder, it's an important joint for the swing and his swing and the finish he has," Epstein said of Bryant. "I don't know that we expected it to [take] this long, but it's certainly very legitimate and he needs to be able to execute his swing. I'm glad today is a good day, and hopefully we'll have him back sometime soon.

"He really wants to be out there, but any time you have an injury you feel on your swing, you have to be smart about it. He's been smart about it. He wants to be out there contributing. The fact that guys have stepped up and won some games makes it a little bit easier. Today might be the day you finally see him smile because it was a good day in the cage. He's not going to be happy until he's back out there playing big league games, which is the way it should be."

However, Bryant may have to deal with soreness in his shoulder the rest of the season, Maddon said.

"We've all been through that where you get these nagging things," Maddon said. "It's just not totally gone, the feeling, whatever he feels at the end of his swing. ... We're just playing it as he sees fit, pretty much."

Smyly could be back in 2018
Drew Smyly, who began the season on the DL as he rehabs from last year's Tommy John surgery, may contribute later this season. The lefty will be stretched out in his rehab -- he's currently at the Cubs' complex in Mesa, Ariz. -- but most likely will be used in relief when he does join the team.

"This guy could be very helpful," Maddon said.

Cubs' future to be represented
Class A South Bend catcher Miguel Amaya will be part of the World Team that plays in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game on July 15 at Nationals Park. Amaya, 19, is batting .271 with 10 home runs, 16 doubles, two triples and 40 RBIs in 73 games this season.

Sandy Martinez, who was the catcher for Kerry Wood's 20-strikeout game in May 1998 with the Cubs, will be the bullpen coach for the World Team. Martinez is a manager in the Dominican Summer League for the Nationals.

Perseverance pays off
Casey Coleman, the Cubs' 15th-round Draft pick in 2008 who pitched with the big league team from '10-12, struck out nine in his first start with Triple-A Iowa on Thursday. The Cubs signed him from an Independent League team.

"It's a good reminder of how you enter and exit an organization is important," Epstein said. "He's someone we've kept on really good terms. ... He still knows how to pitch."

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.

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