Chicago (AFP) – Chicago Cubs pitcher Yu Darvish, out four weeks with a right arm injury, threw three innings Wednesday in a simulated game situation and could make a rehabilitation start Monday, according to team officials.
The 31-year-old right-hander, who left his homeland to begin playing in Major League Baseball in 2012, tossed 51 pitches at Wrigley Field under the gaze of Cubs manager Joe Maddon, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer.
“Really good. I’ll take it,” Maddon said, according to a posting on the club website. “That was outstanding, actually. Great command, great jump on the fastball. His slider was there, and I think he threw one or two splitters at the end.
“You can’t ask for anything more. He looked that good. The delivery was easy, solid. He had a smile on his face, so that means he probably felt pretty good about it. We’ll evaluate it again tomorrow.”
If Darvish passes physical tests, he could start a rehab assignment with a developmental club on Monday and if all works well be back into the Cubs’ rotation before next month’s All-Star Game.
“If things go smoothly and there’s no setback, that’s a strong possibility,” Hoyer said. “We’re not hurrying him back.
“To us, it’s about getting him back fully healthy and not using any one series or one game or one week to make those decisions.
“I thought he looked free and easy. He was throwing all his pitches. I thought his tempo was good. So all in all, I think that was positive.”
Darvish had been out since May 23 with an inflamed right triceps muscle.
“There was some anxiety beforehand, but I think it turned out to be better than I expected,” Darvish said through a translator. “The anxiety came from whether I could throw at 100 percent.”
Darvish last took the mound on May 20, when he gave up one run and two hits over six innings against Cincinnati.
“I’ve been playing catch every week and every time I do, I still have that good feeling from that game against Cincinnati,” Darvish said. “From that aspect, it didn’t feel like it’s been a month without pitching.”
Darvish says some of his pitches still need more work for him to return to peak form.
“Four-seam fastball was great,” Darvish said. “Slider, that was working well. Curveball and splitter, that’s something I still need to work on, but I think that will get better as we go deeper.”