Darvish's bullpen session impresses Cubs

Right-hander tests triceps injury for first time since May 26

June 13th, 2018

MILWAUKEE -- , on the disabled list with right triceps tendinitis, threw his first bullpen session since May 26, and the pitcher and the Cubs were encouraged by Tuesday's workout at Miller Park.
"Today was a big day," Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said. "He let it go and felt really good. That's usually a good sign of what's going to happen next."
Epstein and manager Joe Maddon watched the 30-pitch session by Darvish, whose last start was May 20. He had thrown one bullpen session after that, when he felt soreness in his right arm. Darvish said he will be cautious with his return.
"Because I had a similar injury when I had Tommy John surgery with the ligament, I'm more careful and sensitive this time," Darvish said through his interpreter. "I want to take the time and process things slowly. The MRI showed nothing. From the experience from the Tommy John surgery [in 2015], I have to take this [session] as a positive way going forward."
Darvish, who signed a six-year deal in February, is 1-3 with a 4.95 ERA in eight starts with the Cubs.
Neither Darvish, Epstein nor Maddon wanted to put a timetable on the pitcher's return.
"We're at June 12, so it's about a month to the All-Star break. We'll see," Maddon said. "If there's any chance prior to that, I'm into it. Whatever he thinks and the doctors think -- we'll find out more [Wednesday].
"He threw really well, easy gas, great location, good spin on his breaking ball, [I was] very impressed," Maddon said. "The ball was coming out hot, and it was going right where he wanted to throw it. Good command in the 'pen. ... That's just a bullpen, but it was very encouraging to see him throw that easily and that well."
Darvish has pitched past the fifth inning in three of his eight starts, including his last outing against the Reds when he gave up two hits over six innings, striking out seven. The right-hander said Tuesday's session "felt like where I left off with the last outing in Cincinnati."
"The pitches I've been throwing seem to be good," Darvish said. "It's still a process. Hopefully, I can throw in games soon."
Darvish's first season with the Cubs has not gone well. This is the second time he has been on the disabled list, having missed time in early May because of flu-like symptoms. Epstein didn't think Darvish was pressing to live up to his contract.
"I think almost every free agent goes through that," Epstein said. "Some guys are lucky enough to have things break their way early and it's not as big of an issue. Most free agents struggle -- maybe it's a month, maybe it's three months, maybe it's a whole season. There's a point in time when you fight back and you develop a sense of new normal and you're comfortable in your surroundings and establish yourself.
"He's not the only guy to go through that this year. As an organization, you try to support him and help him feel as comfortable as possible and make sure there's a lot of fight there. Today was a great day. He didn't have to drive up here. He pushed the schedule. He was feeling good and wanted to throw."
Asked if Cubs fans have been treating him all right, Darvish laughed.
"I have to ask each one of them," he said.
"The fans here are very supportive. Even in my situation, they'll come up to me and see me in town and say thanks to me for the performance. I do feel the support from the fans."