Although his second rehab process is going at a very deliberate pace – that’s the fancy way of saying they’re taking it slow on purpose – things are looking good for Yu Darvish, who threw his first simulated game yesterday.
“I thought he threw really well, easy, not affected in any way,” Joe Maddon told Cubs.com. “I think he hit 93 [mph]. Good curveballs and cutter. He looked loose and free to me. I thought it was a really good day.”
Darvish did not feel pain in the session, which, hey, that’s a win considering we always seem to hear about some kind of “pain” when he throws, and then we’re left to wonder if that’s a scary thing or not. Without any other setbacks, then, we can think about this like the part of Spring Training where a guy is building up arm strength bit by bit before he debuts in the regular season.
Before he heads out in a rehab assignment, Darvish will throw another simulated game, which could reportedly come on Sunday at Wrigley Field. That’s the same day that ESPN Sunday Night Baseball comes to Wrigley Field to broadcast the Cubs-Nationals game, and with them, Alex Rodriguez. After he shared vague, anonymous, internal clubhouse criticism of Darvish’s rehab process, I wonder if ARod will attend Darvish’s simulated game to see how things are going for himself. That could certainly set up some entertaining, if awkward, moments.
Hopefully Sunday’s outing goes well, and then Darvish could head out for a rehab start as soon as Friday, August 17. South Bend is always the most logical spot, though they’re on the road at Fort Wayne that night. They return home the next day on Saturday, so maybe that’s the target. The Tennessee Smokies – also a popular rehab spot for the Cubs – are on the road until the next day, Sunday, August 19. They are at home on the 23rd, though, so it’s not hard to imaging the Cubs sketching out a path that has Darvish at South Bend on the 18th and then Tennessee on the 23rd, if things go well. From there, if the Cubs decide he needs one more outing – which would push his big league return into the first week of September – it could be just about anywhere, depending on what makes the most geographic sense at that time.