ST. LOUIS — The Cubs have been bitten hard by the injury bug this year. It's something every team has to deal with from time to time, but the problem for the Cubs hasn't been the volume of injuries so much as who it has been. Both Yu Darvish and Kris Bryant are currently on the disabled list, and neither has a timetable set for his return.
Before Friday's game against the Cardinals in St. Louis, both players spoke to the media and gave updates on their status. For Bryant, the news was positive regarding a second MRI on his fatigued shoulder.
“It just kind of confirmed everything from the first one,” said Bryant. “It was more a precautionary thing, which is kind of understandable coming from the training staff's side. You know, it's just good to have that to make sure there's no further problems.”
Bryant was on the disabled list from June 22-July 11 with the same problem, returning to the team briefly before the All-Star break. In 47 plate appearances since, he has hit .250 with two home runs and a .787 OPS. But he aggravated his shoulder again in an at-bat against the Cardinals last week at Wrigley Field, and was put back on the DL on July 26.
“We were definitely going completely in the right direction,” he said. “Obviously I had time off there too, and any time you have time off it's going to heal a little bit. Like I said, we're playing every day. Sometimes things kind of come up again. It's frustrating, but sometimes you just have to give it some time to rest and heal, and I think that's kind of where we're at.”
When asked if he thought he would play again this season, there was no hesitation in Bryant's response.
“Yes. 1000%. A valid question, but yes. Absolutely.”
As for Darvish, the Cubs' big free agent signing from last offseason has been out of action since the middle of May. He has thrown just 40 innings this year, posting a 4.95 ERA in eight starts. He made a rehab start on June 25, but was later diagnosed with an elbow impingement and was shut down once again. On Friday afternoon, Darvish threw 23 pitches in a bullpen session at Busch Stadium.
“The first 10 pitches, I had some discomfort,” said Darvish. “And then I looked into altering my mechanics, and the pain went away...The pain was pretty severe, but altering the take-back action of the (arm motion) really took the pain away. Then I played catch after the bullpen session, which felt really great. So I'm actually really looking forward to tomorrow.”
Apparently, the Cubs noticed a change in his arm action and were able to get Darvish back to the throwing mechanics from when he was successful.
“After the bullpen session, they told me that this was how I was throwing back in spring training,” he said. “Based on that, playing catch after the bullpen felt really good.”
It's easy to see how some might take the news of pain in his bullpen session as bad news, but Darvish was in good spirits and had a positive feeling about how everything went.
“I was throwing in such a manner to cover the pain of the elbow, I was compensating it elsewhere,” he said. “But now that it's altered, I'm feeling good...When I started feeling the pain, I obviously didn't feel good. Like it might go to a worse direction. But after the side and playing catch felt good, so I think it's going in a positive direction.”