Finally, some optimism surrounding Yu Darvish's rehab

Finally, some optimism surrounding Yu Darvish's rehab

Yu Darvish hasn't spoken to Alex Rodriguez, but he has a plan ready if the former player and current ESPN broadcaster were to reach out:

"If he sends me a text message or something, I'll keep it, maybe take a screenshot, print it out, frame it," Darvish said through a translator.

That officially ended his media session before Saturday's game, but Darvish wasn't done yet:

"I'm not joking," he said in English as he walked away.

It's been a little while since we've seen that sense of humor and edge from Darvish.

He has plenty of bulletin board material for his Comeback Tour and for the first time in what feels like forever, there is actually optimism surrounding Darvish's rehab.

He threw around 55 pitches Saturday morning in the Cubs bullpen underneath the left-field bleachers. That includes warm-up pitches and the Cubs also simulated an inning break by having him throw some pitches, sit down for about five minutes and then get back up and finish off the session.

Darvish worked in every pitch in his arsenal and said he felt good after. Instead of talking about any anxiety or discomfort after a throwing session like previous instances, he instead was looking toward the future, discussing facing hitters as the next step.

"Yeah, certainly [this is the best I've felt]," Darvish said through a translator. "I think all my pitches, velocity-wise were up there at the highest and then I was able to follow through with my arm motion.

"Definitely now that I'm pitching, very optimistic about the process now."

The Cubs don't have a set plan, but if Darvish reports all is well physically Sunday, the next step would be a simulated game against his Cubs teammates. 

Darvish felt like he turned a corner physically about 10 days ago and believes it could possibly be because he and Cubs trainers put more emphasis on treating his back and triggering a "more positive flow."

The Cubs always treat every area of a player's body while they're rehabbing, which makes sense. Just because a guy is on the disabled list for an elbow or triceps injury doesn't mean he or the Cubs trainers can neglect other parts of his body as he tries to get back into game shape.

"Everything up until this point, there was a little bit of pain and discomfort involved," Darvish said. "So I was just trying to see alternatives and it ended up being in the back.

"I can't say for certain [the back treatment helped the arm], but timing-wise, that's when I started the treatment and discomfort and everything went away. So it could be a factor."

Whether the back was the key in the recovery or not, the 31-year-old pitcher has said the whole process recently has been better than it was before.

He's been on quite the roller coaster the last three months. 

After a start at Wrigley Field on May 2, Darvish was placed on the disabled list with the flu. He returned May 15 in Atlanta and had to leave that game due to leg cramps.

He made one more start — May 20 in Cincinnati — before again hitting the disabled list, this time with triceps tightness.

That triceps issue was addressed and Darvish worked up to a rehab start in Class-A South Bend on June 25.

But he reported some discomfort after that 57-pitch outing and then had to have his ensuing bullpen halted in Los Angeles later that week.

Darvish flew to Texas to get a second opinion on his arm, where it was discovered he had an elbow impingement. He received a cortisone shot in that elbow on June 29 and now has been working his way back from that ordeal over the last five weeks.

The Cubs have taken things slow with the veteran right-hander, especially given his history (he had Tommy John surgery in March 2015).

Theo Epstein said before the trade deadline the Cubs knew they realistically couldn't rely on Darvish returning and making an impact for this team, so they went out and acquired one of Darvish's former teammates — Cole Hamels — to help bolster the rotation.

Even in a best case scenario, Darvish is still weeks away from being able to throw on a Cubs uniform and pitch in front of the Wrigley Field fans again.

But this is absolutely a step in the right direction and if he does return, it could be perfect timing for the team a few weeks before the postseason. 

A Darvish return could also mean the Cubs flip Mike Montgomery back from the rotation into the bullpen as they keep an eye on the southpaw's workload (he's on pace for a career-high in innings pitched).

Baseball Prospectus takes shot at Addison Russell in their latest annual

Baseball Prospectus takes shot at Addison Russell in their latest annual

Addison Russell is no longer with the Cubs and he hasn’t yet found a new home in baseball, but he hasn’t escaped being on the receiving end of some tough shots.

Baseball Prospectus, which produces a book each year with team and player capsules, breakdowns and projections, took such a shot. Their blurb for Russell is short and direct.

“The 24-hour national domestic violence hotline number is 800-799-7233.”

Russell was infamously suspended for domestic abuse late in 2018. He returned to the Cubs in 2019, but was not tendered a contract after the season, making him a free agent.

Russell hasn’t found a new landing place with spring training already underway. With this still hanging over his head, it’s no secret as to why.

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Cubs Talk Podcast: What will David Ross' impact on the Cubs be like in 2020?


Cubs Talk Podcast: What will David Ross' impact on the Cubs be like in 2020?

As new manager David Ross takes over for Joe Maddon, he intends to tweak the culture of the Cubs and set his own mark on the team. Jeff Nelson is joined by Outside the Ivy and Bleacher Nation's Michael Cerami to discuss what kind of impact David Ross will have on the 2020 Cubs, what should be expected from the pitching staff and bullpen, and the uncertainty of who plays in the outfield.

(1:36) - What does Ross' impact look like?

(8:28) - Concerns with the pitching staff

(16:00) - Will Craig Kimbrel be better this year?

(20:00) - Will Kris Bryant have enough rope to get used to leading off?

(25:05) - Who do you trust to play the outfield every day?

Listen here or in the embedded player below.

Cubs Talk Podcast