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Darvish could return as early as Saturday

MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

LOS ANGELES -- Yu Darvish could be back in the Cubs' rotation as early as Saturday if his bullpen session on Thursday goes well.

"If it doesn't go well or he's sore afterward or he just doesn't feel he can go Saturday, we'll have some clarity about the rotation," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said Wednesday.

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LOS ANGELES -- Yu Darvish could be back in the Cubs' rotation as early as Saturday if his bullpen session on Thursday goes well.

"If it doesn't go well or he's sore afterward or he just doesn't feel he can go Saturday, we'll have some clarity about the rotation," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said Wednesday.

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Darvish, on the disabled list with right triceps tendinitis, threw five innings in a Minor League rehab start on Monday with Class A South Bend. He joined the Cubs in Los Angeles on Tuesday and has played catch two straight days. After his rehab start, the right-hander said he wasn't 100 percent, but that may be part of the rehab process.

"It's still day by day," Darvish said Wednesday through an interpreter. "It just depends on how it feels tomorrow and we'll go from there."

His strength and endurance are fine, but he does feel something in the triceps, which Darvish said may be normal tightness.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon talked to the pitcher on Tuesday, and they're trying to determine whether Darvish is feeling soreness or pain. Being sore or stiff isn't a bad thing, Maddon said. Pain isn't good.

Hoyer said they do not want to rush Darvish, who has undergone Tommy John surgery in his career.

"It's challenging sometimes," Hoyer said. "I do feel the words sometimes that he may use, there is some nuance or some things lost in translation a little bit. I thought he looked really good on Monday night and pitched really well. He felt a little something but the question is whether it's natural coming back from a rehab assignment and this is normal soreness you go through or something worse than that. That's the essence of what we're trying to figure out, whether this is part of the process of coming back."

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

The Cubs usually wait a day after a bullpen session to make a decision, but Hoyer said they need to get the rotation in order. As of now, Mike Montgomery is scheduled to start Friday and the Cubs aren't sure who will pitch after that. Tyler Chatwood will be activated from the paternity list on Thursday and also may be eligible to start Saturday. He has remained in Chicago this week.

What's most important is Darvish feels 100 percent healthy.

"More than anything we want him to come back as Yu Darvish," Hoyer said. "This guy has incredible stuff and we don't want him to come back as a lesser version of that. We want him to come back and have all his weapons. It just makes sense."

Darvish said he would've liked to play in this series against the Dodgers, whom he pitched for last season, helping them get to the World Series. 

"Rather than what I want, it's more about how my body feels, and it's something I have to talk to the trainers about and discuss with other people," Darvish said.

The time off has given Darvish and his family time to get settled in Chicago.

"I feel they're getting into the rhythm of things now," he said. "That's good."

In an article in the Los Angeles Times, Darvish said he'd considered retiring. He changed his mind because he signed a six-year contract with the Cubs in February.

"Three years ago, I told my wife I might hang it up after the end of the contract [with the Rangers]," Darvish said. "Joining the Dodgers, I had a chance to find myself and be around a very supportive group of people. Baseball has been very fun for me, baseball was really fun with the Dodgers."

And with the Cubs?

"I feel this team has a lot of fun, too," he said. "I feel I'm included in that."

And Darvish smiled. He was wearing one of Maddon's art inspired T-shirts, featuring the Mona Lisa.

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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