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Yu Darvish throws 45 pitches in bullpen session

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Hey, here’s some good baseball news.

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

You’ve probably had enough of news that’s either peripheral to baseball or discussion about rule changes.

How about some real baseball, or at least positive news about a lead-up to spring training?

There is almost nothing that could be more important to the 2019 Cubs than a healthy Yu Darvish. (The other, of course, would be a 100 percent healthy Kris Bryant.) We don’t have to belabor Darvish’s eight-start washout of a 2018 season; he’s apparently 100 percent recovered from the elbow procedure he had last fall.

Darvish does have a fair number of miles on his right arm and is now 32 years old. It’s probably dreaming to think he’d have a season like his best (2013), when he posted a 2.83 ERA, 1.073 WHIP, led the major leagues in strikeouts, had 5.6 bWAR and finished second in A.L. Cy Young voting.

I’d settle for something resembling his 2017 season, split between the Rangers and Dodgers, where he made 31 starts, had a 3.86 ERA and 1.163 WHIP, a 120 ERA+ and a combined 3.8 bWAR.

If he can do that, the Cubs likely have four starters (Kyle Hendricks, Cole Hamels and Jon Lester) who can perform about at that level, and that’s a pretty good run of pitching opponents will have to try to hit.

Obviously, a 45-pitch bullpen session is no guarantee. But things are looking good, and as noted in the tweet and video, Darvish appears to be a man on a mission to prove that he is the pitcher Theo & Co. thought they signed before the 2018 season. Darvish told Tribune reporter Mark Gonzales that he’s pleased with his velocity:

“We’re checking spin rate and (velocity), and then (comparing) last year in spring training (to) this year,” Darvish said. “Last year was 88 (mph) in bullpen — this year 91-92 mph. So my (velocity) was going up, and we were talking about that.”

With more bullpen sessions and exhibition games in the next six weeks, Darvish’s velocity should climb to the mid-90 mph range.

“My body feels way (better) than last year, and my stuff was good too,” Darvish said. “I have confidence.”

Spring training, of course, is time for positive thoughts and optimism about the coming season, and Darvish will have to eventually show these results on the field. I’ll be rooting hard for him. You?