Darvish to make Cubs debut Tuesday vs. LA

March 5th, 2018

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- When the Cubs signed , both the pitcher and team president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said it was important to have the right-hander in camp before the first workout so that he could get to know his new teammates. On Tuesday, Darvish will make his Cubs debut, and manager Joe Maddon says it appears to be an easy transition so far.

"We've had some really good conversations," Maddon said Monday of Darvish. "He's really opening up, and I've enjoyed that part of it."

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Darvish was scratched from his first scheduled Cactus League start on Thursday because he was feeling ill, but was still able to throw two "innings" in a side session that day. On Tuesday, he'll face his former team, the Dodgers, at Sloan Park in Mesa, Ariz., and is expected to go two to three innings, depending on his pitch count.

"His last workout the day he wasn't feeling well was outstanding," Maddon said. "I know he wants to get out there and get it running. First time out, just go out and pitch and play and see what happens."

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Pitcher planned on watching Darvish's debut.

"We've talked pitching," Hendricks said. "I'll ask him some questions. He asks me some questions about my changeup. There's a lot more conversation than I expected."

Hendricks thinks Darvish will benefit from the Cubs' extensive game planning, which is coordinated by coach Mike Borzello.

"Any time anybody comes over here, that's usually the biggest thing they see," Hendricks said of the in-depth reports. "You can tell [Darvish] is a smart guy and puts in the work. When you have that [information] on top of it, you know he'll take advantage of that scouting report.

"For Borzello, he's just salivating, watching [Darvish] during his bullpens," Hendricks said. "It should be fun to watch."

The right-hander, who signed a six-year deal with the Cubs in February, was 6-9 with a 4.01 ERA in 22 starts with the Rangers, and 4-3 with a 3.44 ERA in nine starts for the Dodgers last season.

While there are free agents still looking for jobs -- including former Cubs starter -- Darvish was able to find a match before the first workout for pitchers and catchers.

"Part of it is, yes, we wanted him there from day one to understand what's going on, get to know his teammates, understand the culture and get ready," Maddon said. "The six weeks is important for a pitcher. Spring Training is designed for a pitcher."

The Cubs have reached the National League Championship Series in each of the last three years, and that core is still intact. Darvish will definitely help in their pursuit of a fourth straight trip to the postseason.

"One of our strengths is we're four years together now with a lot of success -- that's a strength," Maddon said. "I look at other teams that were put together relatively in the past offseason. Nice names, really nice names. But how do you get that on the same sheet of music quickly? It's not easy to do. [Darvish] needed to be here from day one."