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Progress for Yu Darvish? Cubs righty throws from bullpen mound

The Cubs still have no timeline for the return of right-hander Yu Darvish, but he threw from a mound briefly Tuesday for the first time since suffering a setback with his surgically repaired elbow late last month.

Darvish, who has been on the disabled list since May for triceps inflammation, threw 16 pitches in the bullpen under the supervision of team president Theo Epstein, general manager Jed Hoyer and medical staff.

“Everything went well,” manager Joe Maddon said. “There was no real horrible discomfort.”

The Cubs expect to re-evaluate Darvish on Wednesday and determine the next step in his rehab program.

Darvish plays catch before Thursday's game at Wrigley Field. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Darvish seemed close to a return from the DL last month until experiencing discomfort during a minor-league rehab start June 25. After reporting more pain during an aborted bullpen session June 28, Darvish traveled to Texas the next day to be examined by his longtime orthopedist.

An impingement in the elbow was diagnosed, and Darvish received a cortisone injection.

Baez bruised but “fine”

All-Star second baseman Javy Baez left the game for precautionary reasons after suffering a bad bruise on his inner thigh when Steven Souza slid hard into him while trying to stretch a single in the seventh inning of the Cubs’ 5-1 loss to the Diamondbacks.

Baez said it swelled “really fast” and that it hurt to the touch two hours later but added, “Hopefully, I can play [Wednesday].”

Souza was hit by a Steve Cishek pitch with two outs in the ninth and had words with first baseman Anthony Rizzo, creating a tense moment for the benches before things quickly calmed down.

The Cubs say the HBP was unintentional.

“I’ll stand up for my teammates every time,” said Rizzo, who said Souza thought he was hit on purpose. “We don’t have a reputation for throwing at guys, so it is what it is.”

Bottom line: “It wasn’t a dirty slide,” Baez said, echoing the sentiments of Maddon and Rizzo.

Maddon to critics: ‘It’s a game’

Maddon, who said his concern about using position players to pitch is more about next-day soreness than injury, apparently was unaware of some of the blowback he got on social media and over the local airwaves for using first baseman Anthony Rizzo to pitch to the final batter in the top of the ninth Monday.

He brought in Rizzo after catcher Victor Caratini got the final out in the eighth and the first two of the ninth.

Maddon said he got nothing but positive feedback from fans he saw and during his radio show.

He also had a message for anyone suggesting he was making a “mockery” of the game.

“People that want to say that do not understand the interconnectedness of the day,” said Maddon, who reiterated Monday night’s point that he did not want to use important bullpen arms in a blowout when they might be needed in a closer game Tuesday.

“So relax, folks. It’s a baseball game. It is not life or death.”

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Maddon has used 10 position players to make 13 relief appearances in his three-plus seasons as manager of the Cubs, including five appearances by four players in a four-day span through Monday.

This and that

Right-hander Eddie Butler, who went on the DL in April because of a groin strain, was activated and added to the bullpen.

Luke Farrell, who threw 67 pitches in a start that lasted only 3„ innings Monday, was optioned to Class AAA Iowa in the corresponding move.

Maddon said “shoulder fatigue” was a factor in slotting Jose Quintana at the back of the rotation out of the break.

Quintana threw 121 pitches Sunday in a victory against the Cardinals, tying his career high from 2014.

Maddon is hosting a charity event downtown Aug. 10 (7 p.m.) featuring sales of the baseball artwork he has commissioned this season and a chance to pick his brain about the inspirations for them and about the game.

The $70 ticket includes an open bar and “small bites,” with all the proceeds going to the Respect 90 Foundation. Go to clear-give.com/egive3 and click events for tickets and more information.