Sportress of Blogitude

Theo Epstein: Yu Darvish ‘on a mission’ to come back and help Cubs

Yu Darvish conducted an encouraging pitching session on Tuesday at Wrigley Field in a simulated game. The expectation is that if everything checks out in the coming days that Darvish will be sent next on a minor-league rehab stint.

And from the rave reviews Darvish is drawing from Cubs’ brass, it sounds like the pitcher is “on a mission” to make his long-awaited return and help the team down the stretch.

“I think he wants it,” Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said, via NBC Sports Chicago. “The guys that are around him every day feel like he’s really eager to get out there and compete. Even in the sim game today, when Vic had a good swing on the fastball, he came back on the next one a little bit harder and was mixing all his pitches.

“He’s going about his business like someone who’s on a mission to come back and help this team.”

Maddon, who has been encouraged by the work put in by Darvish of late — despite a prominent media member’s take on things a few weeks ago — echoed Epstein’s sentiments.

“Totally engaged, looked really good, was not holding back,” Maddon said of Darvish. “… We were all very impressed.”

Darvish threw about 55 pitches in three innings of simulated game action, which included some rest between each “inning.” Tuesday’s outing signified another increase in work in a single session, which points to Darvish, out since May 20 due to right triceps tendinitis, getting closer to a return than ever.

“We’ll see how he feels tomorrow, but seems like he’s just about ready for the next step, which should be rehab games,” Epstein said.