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Smyly eager to 'face some competition'

Left-hander throws second live BP session
MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

CHICAGO -- Drew Smyly was facing three of his Cubs teammates and the tarp-covered left field, but for the first time in his career, he pitched at Wrigley Field and it went well.

Smyly, rehabbing from Tommy John surgery on his left elbow, threw his second live batting-practice session and his first at Wrigley on Friday in front of manager Joe Maddon and president of baseball operations Theo Epstein. Smyly has been rehabbing at the Cubs' complex in Mesa, Ariz., since the season started.

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CHICAGO -- Drew Smyly was facing three of his Cubs teammates and the tarp-covered left field, but for the first time in his career, he pitched at Wrigley Field and it went well.

Smyly, rehabbing from Tommy John surgery on his left elbow, threw his second live batting-practice session and his first at Wrigley on Friday in front of manager Joe Maddon and president of baseball operations Theo Epstein. Smyly has been rehabbing at the Cubs' complex in Mesa, Ariz., since the season started.

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"I just have to keep building up, facing some competition," Smyly said. "Right now it's exciting, because it's been a long road of not much competition, not much throwing. I've built up my bullpen [sessions], and now I'm facing hitters. I feel I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. It's exciting to have a hitter in the box and get my adrenaline going."

The Cubs signed Smyly in December, knowing that anything he could do for the team this season would be a bonus. He had the procedure done last July, and he missed all of 2017.

"With each time, I feel a little less and less hesitation," Smyly said of his rehab outings. "With my curveball, I don't think I snapped it down yet. With my fastball and changeup, [the hesitation] is kind of gone and I can forget about my elbow and pitch. That's a really good feeling. It's basically a year since I've been pain-free."

Maddon knows Smyly from their days together in Tampa Bay.

"I was really impressed with the delivery and the looseness of the arm and the command of his pitches and the carry of his pitches," Maddon said. "Everything was right on. That was a great first time back for us to watch. It's great to build off of. I'm sure he feels great now."

Smyly, who threw 25 pitches, will do more live BP sessions before taking the next step to pitching in simulated games. He didn't expect to begin a rehab assignment in the Minor Leagues until early July.

"I just need innings," Smyly said. "I need to go compete and face hitters. It'll be a fun time pitching every five days."

Video: PIT@CHC: Russell enters game, makes play to end 8th

Worth noting

Addison Russell was one of the batters who faced Smyly in the live BP session. Russell has been sidelined since Sunday with a sprained left middle finger, though he came into Friday's game at shortstop in the eighth inning in a double switch, replacing pitcher Randy Rosario.

Yu Darvish, on the disabled list with inflammation in his right triceps, played catch on Friday after taking Thursday off. There is no timetable for his return.

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

Chicago Cubs, Drew Smyly