MILWAUKEE — All eyes weren’t on Yu Darvish on Tuesday afternoon when he headed out to the bullpen at Miller Park. It only seemed that way.
The high-priced Cubs right-hander threw his first bullpen session since going on the disabled list, effective May 23, with right-triceps tendinitis.
In addition to manager Joe Maddon and pitching coach Jim Hickey, among the viewing party were team president Theo Epstein and assistant general manager Randy Bush.
Darvish threw about 30 pitches and reported feeling good.
“Fastball was good, and everything else was good,” he said through an interpreter. “I felt like where I left off with the last outing against Cincinnati (a May 20 victory).
“The last bullpen that I threw, I felt some soreness. The past couple rounds of playing catch I felt good. I’m just kind of worried if that pain will come again.”
On Sunday, Maddon said he was not sure if Darvish would be able to return to the active roster by next month’s All-Star break. Darvish expressed hope he would be back by then but also sounded a note of caution.
“At least I’ve not been told to throw (until) after the All-Star [break],” he said. “The All-Star (Game) is coming up soon, so I’m hoping to throw before the break.
“Because I had a similar injury when I had Tommy John surgery with the (elbow) ligament, I’m more careful and more sensitive about this time. So I just want to take the time and process things slowly. The MRI showed nothing. From that experience, from the Tommy John surgery, I’d like to take this as a positive and go forward.”
Darvish also handled with humor any idea he feels Cubs fans do not like him because this is his second time on the DL, the first coming early last month with a flu-like illness. The Cubs signed Darvish to a six-year, $126 million deal before spring training.
“I’ve got to ask each one of them,” he joked when talking about the fans. “The fans here are very supportive of my situation. They’ll come up to me when they see me in town. I really do feel the support.
“I had a lot of time to think during the DL time. Try not to think too much under the pressure. So rather just take it in a positive way. I think I can come out of the DL positively.”
Epstein, who signed Darvish, also seemed pleased.
“It went really well,” he said. “Based on some of the reports with him playing catch, I wasn’t expecting quite the quality of bullpen that we saw.
“It was crisp. He seemed to be letting it go without hesitation. He threw all his pitches. He commanded really well. It was free and easy. I think everybody was pleased, including Yu.”
Darvish will see how things respond in the morning, and the Cubs will map more of a plan after that. It’s likely he will throw another bullpen session and then head out on a minor league rehab assignment.
Extra, extra: The Cubs entered Tuesday having recorded at least one extra-base hit in 96 straight games, dating to Aug. 28, 2017. That’s the franchise’s longest streak since at least 1908, surpassing a 94-game run from May 5 to Aug. 15, 1995.