Yu Darvish (triceps inflammation, elbow impingement) threw again this weekend on flat ground, and it’s possible he could be pitching off the mound as soon as this weekend.
Cubs GM Jed Hoyer says that the hope is that Darvish can “ramp it up” after the All-Star break, and Darvish says he might be throwing off the mound this weekend (Cubs.com). And if it seems like the Cubs are being more cautious with Darvish’s second rehab – his first attempt ended just before he was set to return to the rotation thanks to feeling pain in his final bullpen session – they are.
“Instead of tolerating the pain and getting used to it, I think it’s more important to prevent any of this happening in the future,” Darvish said. “In this rehab process there’s a little bit of preventative [work].”
That gentle pacing becomes all the more understandable – and concerning – when you read that Darvish says this discomfort is something he’s never felt before, and even the athletic trainers “are having a tough time processing it.” In other words, if folks are having a tough time figuring it out, and if Darvish is experience noticeable pain that he doesn’t want to pitch through, then you’re left with – at best – a very long, deliberate, careful rehab process. In general, you don’t want a guy pitching through “pain,” as that can make things worse. But that distinction between “pain” and “rehab discomfort” – especially if you’ve never felt that particular kind of discomfort before – can be a tricky one.
In any case, the hope is that Darvish is back on the mound this weekend. When I’d last calculated his earliest possible return date, it was based on him throwing off the mound early this week, and eventually had him plausible returning in the first week of August. Now, I’d say you have to push that back another week (and, again, that’s for the earliest realistic timeline).
Mike Montgomery’s spot in the rotation is safe for a while yet, and the Cubs’ interest in picking up pitching depth will remain as strong as ever.