Yu Darvish Appears Ready For Rehab Start

"He looks like he is on a mission to help this team," Theo Epstein says.

Bruce Levine
August 14, 2018 - 12:35 pm
Cubs right-hander Yu Darvish

David Kohl/USA Today Sports

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CHICAGO (670 The Score) -- Right-hander Yu Darvish continues to make solid progress in his quest to rejoin the Cubs and be a difference-maker down the stretch and in the playoffs.

Sidelined since May 20 as he deals with right triceps soreness and an elbow impingement, Darvish threw a 50-pitch simulated game at Wrigley Field on Tuesday morning and looked ready to take the final steps toward getting back on a big league mound. If he feels good Wednesday, the next step for him will be a rehab start in the minor leagues, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein confirmed.

"Let's just take it one step at a time," manager Joe Maddon said. "I was watching his third inning, and his stuff was really good. Good breaking ball, great spin on the breaking stuff today. He was totally involved. He was really competing out there. You could tell because he got upset with himself after a spiked one fastball. I liked what I saw. He was totally engaged. He was not holding back. We were all very impressed."

A rehab start at Class-A South Bend on Sunday is a likely next step for Darvish, sources said. He made one rehab start for South Bend in late June and though he looked good then, he felt continued pain in his arm afterward. The setback led to him visiting getting a cortisone shot and sent him back to the beginning of his rehab process.

Darvish is 1-3 with a 4.95 ERA in eight starts this season.

"We will see how he feels tomorrow," Epstein said. "He looks like he is ready for the next step, which would be a rehab start. I think it's a process. We will see how he feels. It's been a long road back, so there is no point rushing it now. We probably only have one chance to get this right, considering where the calendar is at. That is the priority."

Darvish will have to build up to a pitch count of 75 or so to be ready to give the Cubs at least five innings. He'll likely need two rehab starts of free and easy throwing before the Cubs let him return to the team.

"He really wants it," Epstein said of Darvish's demeanor. "The guys around him every day feel he is really eager to get out there and compete. He was mixing all of his pitches. He looks like he is on a mission to come back and help this team."

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.​​​​