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Darvish plays catch to test blister

Cubs righty reports no issues, hopes for swift return
@MLBastian
March 21, 2019

MESA, Ariz. -- The blister that developed on Yu Darvish's right hand is in an unusual location and the problem arose on a slider for the first time in the pitcher's career. That creates a certain level of unknowns as the Cubs work on what they hope is a swift

MESA, Ariz. -- The blister that developed on Yu Darvish's right hand is in an unusual location and the problem arose on a slider for the first time in the pitcher's career. That creates a certain level of unknowns as the Cubs work on what they hope is a swift return.

The good news right now is that Darvish played catch Wednesday with no issues. The next test for Darvish, who exited Tuesday's start against the Mariners after the blister impacted the inside of his right ring finger in the fifth inning, will be a bullpen session Friday. After that Chicago will have a better gauge as to whether the starter will need more healing time.

"He said he's ready to rock and roll," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said before Wednesday's 4-4 tie with the Dodgers. "So, we'll just play it the proverbial one day at a time. But, he felt good today and he threw."

As things are currently scheduled, Darvish's next day to pitch falls on Sunday, when the Cubs face the Padres in Peoria, Ariz. It is possible that Chicago will have the pitcher stay at the team's Mesa headquarters to get his work in a more controlled Minor League setting. Maddon said that has not been decided.

Maddon also has not announced the starters for March 30-31 at Texas, leaving some flexibility for the team to move things around if necessary. Darvish projects as the No. 2 starter behind Opening Day lefty Jon Lester, but that is subject to change, especially in light of the blister.

"We just have to make sure that when he goes out and pitches that there's no real chance to open it up again," Maddon said. "You don't want that to happen. He's been throwing a ball great. He's feeling wonderful. I don't want it to be impacted by a blister. So, we've got to be very careful."

Edwards sends message

A day after being ejected from Tuesday's 6-4 win over the Mariners by home-plate umpire Alfonso Marquez, Cubs reliever Carl Edwards Jr. admitted that he hit Austin Nola with a pitch intentionally in the sixth inning. Edwards said he was retaliating for Willson Contreras and Kris Bryant both being hit with pitches earlier in the game.

"Yeah, I did," Edwards said Wednesday. "You get to a point where you're kind of tired of the guys getting hit. I mean, those are our big guys. That's 25-man roster. Those are guys that are going to help us win championships, help us win ballgames. And, you know, all due respect, but it's the nature of the game."

Entering Wednesday, the Cubs had been hit by a pitch 16 times (third most in the Majors), with Bryant and Contreras having been hit three times each.

Maddon said he plans on speaking with Edwards about the incident.

"I'm kind of surprised. I'll research that further," said the manager. "It was a Triple-A team we were playing and I didn't think that their pitchers were necessarily being mean-spirited. So, I don't know what was going on with that. But, at the time that it happened, that's not the message I got [from Edwards]."

Descalso progressing

Daniel Descalso tested his left shoulder with some light hitting during the team's workouts on both Tuesday and Wednesday. Maddon said the veteran utility man is on the cusp of being cleared to get some game at-bats and there is growing optimism that Descalso will be ready for Opening Day.

"He's doing good," Maddon said. "He's at the point where we're going to start garnering him some at-bats, even at the Minor League level, just to build up that cache. But, he's feeling really good. He might be OK [for the start of the season]."

Roederer's memorable moment

Cubs outfield prospect Cole Roederer (No. 5 on the team's Top 30 list, per MLB Pipeline) joined the big league club for Tuesday's game and homered in the eighth inning in his first at-bat of the spring. As he rounded third base, the 19-year-old Roederer -- selected in the second round of the 2018 MLB Draft -- could hardly contain his smile.

"I wouldn't be able to, my God," Maddon said. "We were all very happy for him. That was really ripped, man. That might've been the farthest one all spring, where it was hit, too. Loud. Real loud from the bench. Real loud."

Up next

Right-hander Kyle Hendricks (5.06 ERA in four spring starts) is scheduled to start for the Cubs on Thursday, when Chicago hosts the Giants in a 3:05 p.m. CT Cactus League tilt at Sloan Park. San Francisco will send Jeff Samardzija (2.63 ERA this spring) to the mound. The game will air on a free audio webcast.

Jordan Bastian covers the Cubs for MLB.com. He previously covered the Indians from 2011-18 and the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian.