MESA, Arizona — The first pitch Yu Darvish threw in his minor-league outing against a team of Triple-A Rockies was sent over the right-center field wall for a home run.
Then he gave up another hit, and started looking at his right hand, and that sounds pretty uh-oh, doesn’t it?
But Darvish settled down and threw well through five innings (a bit less, officially, but there was one inning where they had him face a fourth batter after retiring three guys on about six pitches), and here’s the full rundown thanks to cubs.com‘s Jordan Bastian:
Darvish (blister right ring finger) threw 13 pitches (6 strikes) in the first inning. Cut off after two outs to control pitch count. Clearly fighting his command.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) March 24, 2019
Second inning much better: 14 (10), stayed in to record four outs. May have removed the bandage. We’ll get details after the outing.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) March 24, 2019
Yu Darvish’s line: 4.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 8 K, 1 HR, 1 HBP, 2 groundouts, two flyouts, two infield flyouts, 71 (45), 9 swinging strikes, 10/19 first-pitch strikes.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) March 24, 2019
Couple notes on this...— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) March 24, 2019
Minor Leaguers sit on fastballs in these games. Always extra aggressive when big leaguers come down. That kid’s got a story for life now.
From Yu’s side, he’s testing grips, trying to gauge how hand feels. And looked like he had bandage on finger.
Darvish said he pitched with the bandage on for the entire outing (by order of the Cubs training staff). He felt fine. Will throw without it in his next bullpen session. Says he's ready to go. On target to pitch in Texas (Sat or Sun).— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) March 24, 2019
And that’s how I saw it, too, apart from the one time in the first inning he looked down at his hand. I don’t see any reason he wouldn’t be ready to go against the Rangers. If the Cubs stay in the same rotation order they’re in now, he’d go on Saturday, but because they have an off day Friday, they could have Cole Hamels (who starts Monday against the Red Sox) take the Saturday start and have Darvish go next Sunday, which would give him a full six days’ rest.
Hey, look who was standing right behind me at Field 6 at the complex!
About 100 fans were watching, along with a couple dozen Cubs minor leaguers who weren’t taking part in either game. The Cubs minor leaguers who played in the game in which Darvish pitched: Jacob Hannemann, Trent Giambrone, Zack Short, Charcer Burks, P.J. Higgins (who caught Darvish), Ian Rice, Brandon Hughes, D.J. Artis and Vimael Machin.
Also playing in this game was Daniel Descalso, who played both second and third base and who took an at-bat in every inning. Here’s one of Descalso’s plate appearances, with a runner going, this one resulted in a hit:
Here are the five innings Darvish threw, which I ran on Facebook Live. As always, apologies for the occasional jostling of my phone.
Yu Darvish minor league game 1st inningPosted by Bleed Cubbie Blue on Sunday, March 24, 2019
Yu Darvish minor league game 2nd inningPosted by Bleed Cubbie Blue on Sunday, March 24, 2019
Yu Darvish minor league game 3rd inningPosted by Bleed Cubbie Blue on Sunday, March 24, 2019
Yu Darvish minor league game 4th inningPosted by Bleed Cubbie Blue on Sunday, March 24, 2019
Yu Darvish minor league game 5th inningPosted by Bleed Cubbie Blue on Sunday, March 24, 2019
Two more photos before we move on to the Cactus League finale. Another shot of Descalso:
I mean... I don’t even know what to say about a game like that, especially since many of the players I saw in the minor-league game in Mesa are of about equivalent ability and level in the Cubs system as the guys who played in Peoria, and in some cases the Mesa guys are at a higher level. Everyone got hits, pretty much everyone scored runs, the Cubs went 18-for-28 (!!!!) with runners in scoring position... I mean, how do you even get that many at-bats with RISP? Most games, maybe a team gets seven or eight at-bats with RISP.
Cristhian Adames, who could play meaningful innings for the Cubs at some point this year, went 3-for-5 with five RBI and Phillip Evans, who also could be in the infield mix at some point in 2019, went 4-for-5 with six RBI, including a two-run homer. The Cubs hit 10 (!) doubles in this game, which would have tied the franchise record (set in 1931) if it had been a regular-season game.
Here’s some of the fun from the first inning [VIDEO], including Evans’ homer.
All you can do after a game like that is tip your cap and laugh. Baseball should be fun, right?
There will be two more games’ worth of fun at Sloan Park this spring, as the defending World Series champion Red Sox come in for a pair. Cole Hamels, as noted above, will start for the Cubs. Rick Porcello starts for the Red Sox. Game time Monday is 8:05 p.m. CT and there will be TV coverage via NBC Sports Chicago and radio on 670 The Score.