Yu Darvish took another big step in his rehab from elbow inflammation Saturday, throwing a 55-pitch bullpen session that he told reporters had him “very optimistic” about his future. Darvish has been gradually building up the length of his throwing sessions, so this could be the final step prior to a simulated start next week.
More than just the number of pitches, Darvish reported that he was cutting it loose at full velocity. That’s a great sign for not only his health, but his confidence as he gets ready to face live batters again. It was mostly status quo while discussing his latest effort, though he did give reporters a little bit of a start when he talked about getting treatment on his back.
Turns out it was just a matter of taking more measures to improve his overall strength and perhaps help his elbow as a result.
“Everything up until this point, there was a little bit of pain and discomfort involved,” Darvish said through his interpreter. “So I was just trying to see alternatives.”
The real test, as we’ve mentioned here frequently throughout this process, comes in how everything feels over the next day or two. If everything is still good come Sunday and Monday, Darvish should be ready for a sim game and then a rehab start after that. Barring further setbacks, he could actually be in line for return later this month.
The Cubs certainly aren’t counting on that and they’re going to be cautious after seeing how things went sideways the first time around. They’ve also got roster implications to consider. Activating Darvish on August 26, for instance, would mean optioning someone or coming up with another reason to DL Brian Duensing. Making the move six days later eliminates the need for another move.
That’s all just hypothetical, since it only matters if Darvish can successfully work his way back over the next two or three weeks. And I’m feeling pretty good about his ability to do just that.