The Cubs received good news on Yu Darvish after beating the Twins 10-6 Friday evening at Wrigley Field.
After the Cubs left Los Angeles, Darvish flew to Dallas to meet with Dr. Keith Meister to get a second opinion on his injured arm. He was diagnosed with an elbow impingement and inflammation and received a cortisone shot. He won't be able to throw for 3-5 days, but after that, he will be re-evaluated and could start throwing again next week.
By the time he gets the all-clear and then builds up his conditioning and arm strength, there probably isn't any chance of seeing Darvish before the All-Star Break.
Whenever he is able to make his return to a big-league mound, the Cubs acknowledge there is a mental hurdle he will have to get past.
After signing a 6-year, $126 million deal over the winter, it would be an understatement to say things have not gone smoothly for the 31-year-old pitcher in Chicago.
Darvish looked great in his rehab stint in Class-A South Bend Monday night, but was apprehensive in his post-start press conference. Then he met up with the Cubs at Dodger Stadium and chatted with Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times about how difficult the last 8-9 months have been on him psychologically since he had two rough starts in the World Series for the Dodgers last fall.
Darvish then threw a bullpen in front of Cubs officials Thursday morning in L.A. and had to cut it short because he reported "pain" in his triceps, not just residual soreness or tightness.
As a result, the Cubs sent Darvish to meet with Dr. Meister, who is one of the team doctors for the Rangers and knows Darvish's history extensively dating back before the pitcher's 2015 Tommy John surgery.
Regardless of where he's at physically, the Cubs understand there's a psychological hurdle Darvish will have to get over at some point.
After all, 90 percent of this game is half mental, right?
"I can't speak for him, but for me, maybe you do press a little bit going to a new spot," said Tyler Chatwood, who also signed with the Cubs as a free agent starting pitcher over the winter. "You just want to impress them rather than being what you've always been and why they wanted you in the first place. So I think there's that element to it, but I can't speak for him."
Chris Gimenez — who is close friends with Darvish and has caught the pitcher dating back to 2014 — echoed Chatwood's comments about fitting in immediately with a new team in a new place in front of a new group of fans. The veteran catcher has been on six different MLB teams in his career, including four separate squads in the last four seasons.
"I think any player would say that," Gimenez said. "Everybody wants to come out and show their best at all times, no matter what the contract or whether you've been here years or haven't.
"...You definitely want to get off on your best foot. We gotta get him back healthy first and foremost so that he can go out there and show everybody what he can do."
Darvish has already been on the disabled list for 5 weeks for the triceps issue that first cropped up right before Memorial Day weekend. He was also on the disabled list in early May for the flu.
He hasn't pitched at Wrigley Field since May 2 and will cross the season's halfway mark with only 40 innings under his belt.
Between the big contract, the DL stints, the rough World Series starts and the outcry from fans, there is a lot of pressure on Darvish to go out there and perform.
"I really want to try to emilerate that concern in his mind," Joe Maddon said. "I just want him to go play and go pitch. We all know he's here under free agent status or whatever. But I just want him to go out and just play. Just be Yu Darvish and we'll take it from there.
"Make sure everything's healthy, support him and then go play. It's easier said than done, but I want him to be unencumbered when he goes out there and hopefully he'll feel that through our support. That's how I work with everybody here.
"It's easy to get caught in the trap of expectations. But, not a bad thing. Pressure's a good thing. It should bring out the best in Yu at some point. As we get to know Yu better, to really channel it in the proper direction, support him properly, have him understand that we're with him 100 percent and I believe you're gonna see the end result being a positive one."
Of course Darvish is frustrated. Of course the Cubs are frustrated. Of course Cubs fans are frustrated.
But all the frustration in the world won't get Darvish back out on a big-league mound any sooner.
"He definitely wants to be out there and helping his team," Maddon said. "Of course he does. I've had a lot of conversations with him. He really is a wonderful young man and we talk straight up. He is frustrated to be in this position right now.
"That's what I'm saying. It's easy to deingrate or point fingers or question, but I never question when somebody tells me they're injured and you have to support that. So we'll see what happens next. Get him back on the mound and take it from there.
"He can be such a boon to us, obviously. That's why we signed him in the first place. It's a long season, he's not obviously used up a whole lot of innings to this point. Hopefully he gets it right and then can be very strong for us in the second half and down the stretch."