Darvish feeling better after missing start

March 5th, 2020

MESA, Ariz. -- Cubs manager David Ross has been tight-lipped when it comes to naming his pick for the Opening Day starter assignment. has been an obvious candidate, but a minor setback on Thursday caused a disruption for his schedule.

On Thursday morning, Ross announced that Darvish was scratched from his planned start against the Rangers due to flu-like symptoms. The pitcher informed the team after he began experiencing a cough on Wednesday, then he was in a local hospital on Thursday to receive treatment and fluids.

"We're taking precautions, especially with all the stuff that's going around," Ross said. "We're making sure that we get these guys hydrated and feeling good. I know how bad, personally, that gets. So just extra cautious in that area and make sure we try to do our best to not spread it around."

Following Thursday’s 5-0 loss to the Rangers, the word from the Cubs was that Darvish was home and feeling better. The pitcher is expected to get in three innings of work in a simulated game on Friday.

That followed an encouraging assessment earlier in the day from Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, who said the early feedback from doctors was that Darvish was not likely to miss much time.

“They think he's going to be fine,” Epstein said.

If Darvish is able to get his scheduled workload in over the next day or two, it would keep him on target for the opening series against the Brewers, and potentially for an Opening Day nod.

Ross was unable to manage the Cubs' first three Cactus League games of the spring due to illness and was in the hospital for a day as well. Lefty José Quintana was sidelined early in camp with similar symptoms and did not make his spring debut until Tuesday. Like Darvish, Jason Kipnis was scratched from Thursday's lineup, while Albert Almora Jr. was also under the weather.

So there has been a bug going around Cubs camp since the early days of Spring Training, with a handful of coaches also having dealt with the issue.

After news spread Thursday that Darvish would miss his start against Texas, the pitcher logged into his Twitter account (@faridyu) and posted a few updates from the hospital. Darvish tweeted that he did not want to enter the clubhouse without permission, adding that he did not have a fever or any symptoms beyond a cough. Darvish later tweeted that tests came back negative for the flu.

Darvish threw two innings in his Cactus League debut against the Brewers on Saturday, reaching 98 mph on the radar gun with his fastball and ending with three strikeouts, no walks and one run allowed. Given Thursday's setback, the Cubs may need to map out a revised pitching plan.

"We'll adjust," Ross said on Thursday morning. "It all obviously depends on how many days he may be out and how he feels when he gets back out here. All that comes into play. We've got to listen to our bodies, especially this time of year and make sure we don't push somebody when they're either dehydrated, or make sure they're feeling well and able to get the most out of them."

Besides Darvish, Ross' Opening Day options include veteran Jon Lester and righty Kyle Hendricks. Each of those three pitchers would be worthy of taking the ball against the Brewers in the March 26 season opener, but Ross is not ready to reveal his pick, especially given the latest situation.

"I don't know yet. I don't know," Ross said. "That's why we tell you guys there's a lot that goes on. Anybody can go down, can come up with a little something, the flu or just even a stomachache or, you know, a bad back. There's a ton of things that can happen, so we just wait and see."