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Cubs hope Darvish can 'ramp it up' in 2nd half

MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

SAN DIEGO -- It's been a frustrating first half for Yu Darvish, who hopes to begin throwing off the mound soon. No matter what the right-hander's status is, the Cubs know they need more pitching as they approach the non-waiver Trade Deadline, general manager Jed Hoyer said Saturday.

"My sense is that he feels better and his arm is feeling good," Hoyer said of Darvish, who has been on the disabled list since May 23 with right triceps tendinitis. "Our hope is that after the [All-Star] break, he can ramp it up. I have no reason to be pessimistic."

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SAN DIEGO -- It's been a frustrating first half for Yu Darvish, who hopes to begin throwing off the mound soon. No matter what the right-hander's status is, the Cubs know they need more pitching as they approach the non-waiver Trade Deadline, general manager Jed Hoyer said Saturday.

"My sense is that he feels better and his arm is feeling good," Hoyer said of Darvish, who has been on the disabled list since May 23 with right triceps tendinitis. "Our hope is that after the [All-Star] break, he can ramp it up. I have no reason to be pessimistic."

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The last time Darvish tried to pitch was June 28 in Los Angeles when he threw in the bullpen, but the pain in his arm stopped that session short. The next day, he was examined by the Rangers' doctor in Texas and received a cortisone shot to deal with the impingement.

"There was a lot of pain in [Los Angeles] before going on the DL," Darvish said Saturday through his interpreter. "There's a little bit of scariness that's left in my mind."

He's been playing catch every other day and if the right-hander continues to make progress, Darvish said he could throw off the mound next weekend.

"Instead of tolerating the pain and getting used to it, I think it's more important to prevent any of this happening in the future," he said. "In this rehab process there's a little bit of preventative [work]."

Mike Montgomery has filled in well while Darvish has been sidelined, but Hoyer said the Cubs have been looking for pitching depth even before Darvish was hurt.

"No matter what happens [with Darvish], we're going to be trying to acquire pitching and try to acquire depth," Hoyer said. "That's our focus no matter what."

Darvish said the discomfort he's had now is something he's never experienced in his career and added that even the Cubs' athletic trainers are having a tough time processing it.

Cubs fans and the media aren't the only ones wondering when Darvish will return.

"I want to get back into the game and pitch in the games as soon as possible," Darvish said. "[Anthony] Rizzo was just talking to me earlier today. He asked me, 'When are you going to get back in the game?' I'd like to come back as soon as possible."

What did Darvish tell Rizzo?

"I just told him, 'I don't know,'" Darvish said.

"I think we're surprised," Hoyer said of Darvish's injury. "Other than the Tommy John [surgery he had], he's been a guy who takes the ball and has been really durable. I think this is a blip. I think it's a moment in time and he'll get back to that place where he'll give us six, seven innings of quality baseball."

Worth noting
Kyle Schwarber tested his home run swing on Saturday at Petco Park, taking timed batting practice to prepare for Monday's T-Mobile Home Run Derby.

Video: Home Run Derby Matchup: Bregman vs. Schwarber

With hitting coach Chili Davis watching the clock and coach Juan Cabreja throwing strikes, Schwarber swung for the fences. He'll face the Astros' Alex Bregman in the first round at Nationals Park. Cubs teammate Javier Baez will face the Dodgers' Max Muncy. In 2015, the Cubs' Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant participated in the Home Run Derby. Neither advanced past the first round that year.

• The Cubs have yet to announce the rotation after the All-Star break, but expect to see all five starters against the Cardinals. There is a make-up doubleheader on Saturday. Luke Farrell, who was optioned to Triple-A Iowa on Friday, was sent there to get stretched out for a possible spot start.

• Rizzo led off on Saturday for the second straight game. How long will manager Joe Maddon keep the first baseman at the top of the lineup?

"Three games left in the half, he'd been struggling and we've had a hard time scoring runs on the West Coast in general, so let's do something different," Maddon said.

Which means Rizzo most likely won't be leading off after the All-Star break.

• RHP Carl Edwards Jr. was placed on the paternity list and LHP Rob Zastryzny was recalled from Triple-A Iowa.

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