Sportress of Blogitude

Yu Darvish looked ‘loose and free’ pitching two innings of simulated game

Yu Darvish continued on his long road to recovery by pitching Wednesday in a simulated game, during which Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon observed the pitcher looked “loose and free.”

Darvish’s outing, which lasted two “innings,” lasted 33 pitches. The effort follows a 35-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday during which he threw all his pitches. Darvish has been out since May 20 due to right triceps tendinitis and his recovery has been marred by a few setbacks.

Darvish, however, appeared to check all the boxes with his performance on Wednesday.

“I thought he threw really well, easy, not affected in any way,” Maddon said, via MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat. “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.”

The Cubs are expected to conduct another simulation similar to Wednesday’s outing before deciding on Darvish’s next step, which may be a minor league outing. The Cubs will be extremely cautious, though, as Darvish’s last minor league appearance did not ultimately yield encouraging results.

Following an encouraging 57-pitch outing in late June for the South Bend Cubs — Chicago’s Class A outfit — Darvish experienced some pain in his next bullpen session.

With that in mind, Maddon says the Cubs will handle Darvish like it’s early March, not August.

“You don’t want to to push it too hard now,” Maddon said. “I would imagine he’d do something similar again before you get him out there competing.

“You’ve got to take your time with it — you don’t go zero to 60. Absolutely, you have to treat it like Spring Training now.”

Darvish obviously feels pressured to get back on the mound after signing a six-year, $126 million contract in February. And the fact that the pitcher recently was called out by a prominent media member over how he’s conducting his rehab certainly proved to be an annoyance, albeit one Darvish handled masterfully.