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Darvish ready to be rid of last season's troubles

MLB.com @MLBastian

MESA, Ariz. -- Following a bullpen session on Wednesday morning, Yu Darvish made his way to a vacated practice field. With no coaches, teammates or staffers around, the Cubs' right-hander worked through a series of tosses into a batting practice screen to continue refining his delivery.

Darvish is not only thrilled to be healthy and unrestricted this spring -- in the wake of a right elbow procedure in September -- but happy to be a year deeper into his Cubs' tenure. After Wednesday's workout, Darvish said the pressure of his six-year, $126 million contract was weighing on him last season, even before the injury issues began to mount.

MESA, Ariz. -- Following a bullpen session on Wednesday morning, Yu Darvish made his way to a vacated practice field. With no coaches, teammates or staffers around, the Cubs' right-hander worked through a series of tosses into a batting practice screen to continue refining his delivery.

Darvish is not only thrilled to be healthy and unrestricted this spring -- in the wake of a right elbow procedure in September -- but happy to be a year deeper into his Cubs' tenure. After Wednesday's workout, Darvish said the pressure of his six-year, $126 million contract was weighing on him last season, even before the injury issues began to mount.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

"At that time last year, I didn't say anything about that," Darvish said. "But definitely I was thinking about, 'I have to do something for the Cubs. I should win 20 games or something.' I want to be myself now."

The 32-year-old Darvish was limited to eight starts last season and admitted that he did not feel right physically (unrelated to his arm) early in the year. By this past December, a trimmed-down Darvish started to feel like himself again, leading to what he feels is an improved mental state as he enters this second Spring Training with a team he said now feels like "family."

Jon Lester, who is no stranger to the pressure of a large contract, said it is important that Darvish continue to push aside any thoughts of trying to do more due to the lucrative salary.

"It's a personal thing. It's something that you kind of have to eventually move on from," Lester said. "You try to live up to your contract every start, and you can't do that. You just have to kind of try to put that behind you as best you can and obviously it was a little bit harder for him with his arm.

"I'm just glad that he seems in a better place physically and mentally. So that's a boost for us, and I'm excited for that."

Video: Maddon, Epstein and Hendricks looking forward to 2019

Maddon sorting through infield options
With Javier Baez starting the season at shortstop, the Cubs will have to sort through how to handle second base. Maddon said Daniel Descalso and Ben Zobrist will be options, but added that the Cubs plan on giving Ian Happ more of an opportunity at the position again. David Bote will offer depth at second and third, while also serving as the primary backup at shortstop.

"There's a lot of moving parts at second base, but they're all very capable," Maddon said. "It's congested, and we've got to play through camp and see how it all works out."

Video: Zobrist discusses training, versatility with Cubs

Chatwood making minor adjustment
The Cubs had high-speed Edgertronic cameras and live data feedback (via Rapsodo) for two of the mounds during Wednesday's workout. During the first wave of bullpen sessions, Carl Edwards Jr. and Tyler Chatwood were on the information-gathering hills. Chatwood, specifically, is working to implement a slight mechanical adjustment, though Maddon did not delve into the details.

"[Pitching coach Tommy Hottovy] has been very optimistic about what he's seen," Maddon said. "There's a real minor change in what he's been doing -- it'd be hard for you guys to see it -- but pertinent. And today, watching it, it looked really good. So, I definitely want to take this one moment at a time. I want to talk with him a lot. I want to support him. I want him to be optimistic. I want him to remain positive, because if we get this guy right, he can be so huge in our success this year."

Video: Edwards on Cubs' long offseason, preparing for 2019

Worth noting
• As a procedural move, the Cubs placed right-hander Kendall Graveman on the 60-day injured list on Wednesday, dropping the 40-man roster to 39 players. Graveman is in the process of rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.

• Two notable arrivals on Wednesday were third baseman Kris Bryant and Descalso. Position players are not required to report to Arizona until Sunday, with the first full-squad workout following on Monday.

Jordan Bastian covers the Cubs for MLB.com. He previously covered the Indians from 2011-18 and the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.

Chicago Cubs, Yu Darvish