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Darvish (triceps) impresses in simulated game

Righty shows full repertoire, could begin rehab assignment early next week
MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

CHICAGO -- The Cubs were encouraged by Yu Darvish's outing in a simulated game Wednesday, and the right-hander may need just one rehab start before he's ready to return to the rotation.

Darvish threw 51 pitches over three simulated innings, facing teammates Ian Happ and Tommy La Stella at Wrigley Field while manager Joe Maddon, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, general manager Jed Hoyer and the coaching staff all watched.

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CHICAGO -- The Cubs were encouraged by Yu Darvish's outing in a simulated game Wednesday, and the right-hander may need just one rehab start before he's ready to return to the rotation.

Darvish threw 51 pitches over three simulated innings, facing teammates Ian Happ and Tommy La Stella at Wrigley Field while manager Joe Maddon, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, general manager Jed Hoyer and the coaching staff all watched.

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"Really good. I'll take it," Maddon said after the workout. "That was outstanding, actually. Great command, great jump on the fastball. His slider was there, and I think he threw one or two splitters at the end. You can't ask for anything more, he looked that good. The delivery was easy, solid. He had a smile on his face, so that means he probably felt pretty good about it. We'll evaluate it again tomorrow."

The Cubs want to see how Darvish feels after the session. He's been on the disabled list since May 23 because of inflammation in his right triceps. Darvish admitted to feeling a little nervous before the sim game because he wasn't sure how his arm would feel.

"There was some anxiety beforehand, but I think it turned out to be better than I expected," Darvish said through his interpreter. "The anxiety came from whether I could throw at 100 percent."

"I thought he looked free and easy," Hoyer said. "He was throwing all his pitches. He ended with a split. I felt like if he's doing that, he feels pretty good. I thought his tempo was good. So all in all, I think that was positive."

Hoyer said if Darvish passes all the tests on Thursday, the next step could be a rehab outing Monday.

"I've been playing catch every week, and every time I do, I still have that good feeling from that game against Cincinnati," Darvish said of his last start on May 20, when he threw six innings against the Reds, giving up one run on two hits. "From that aspect, it didn't feel like it's been a month without pitching."

Video: CHC@CIN: Darvish strikes out 7, limits Reds to 1 run

The right-hander threw all of his pitches during his workout.

"Four-seam fastball was great," he said. "I don't think I had any problems with that. Slider, that was working well. Curveball and splitter, that's something I still need to work on, but I think that will get better as we go deeper."

The Cubs are hopeful Darvish can return to the rotation before the All-Star break.

"I think if things go smoothly and there's no setback, that's a strong possibility," Hoyer said. "We're not hurrying him back. I think with all of our guys, we want to have [Carl Edwards Jr.] back, [Brandon] Morrow back and Yu back. We have to play for hopefully seven months. Rushing the guy back and having him back on the DL doesn't do anyone any good.

"To us, it's about getting him back fully healthy and not using any one series or one game or one week to make those decisions."

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

Chicago Cubs, Yu Darvish