PITTSBURGH — After playing catch in the outfield Thursday, Cubs right-hander Yu Darvish considers himself ready to start a rehab assignment Sunday, likely at Class A South Bend.
‘‘He came in and said he felt great, so he’s ready to roll,’’ manager Joe Maddon said.
The $126 million centerpiece of the Cubs’ offseason hasn’t pitched since experiencing soreness near his surgically repaired pitching
elbow in May. He subsequently suffered a setback after his first rehab start in June.
With barely two weeks left in the minor-league season and 42 games left in the big-league season, another setback likely would mean Darvish wouldn’t return to the Cubs’ rotation in 2018.
‘‘It would be difficult, no question,’’ Maddon said. ‘‘But he was very optimistic when I talked to him.’’
The Cubs plan to evaluate Darvish from start to start at South Bend before making a decision about when to activate him, though it seems obvious they’ll wait until rosters expand after this month.
Darvish threw a three-inning simulated game Tuesday at Wrigley Field.
‘‘One start, if he kills it, who knows?’’ Maddon said. “Three starts would be the maximum, I would think. After three starts, you would think that he has it dialed in.’’