Though he was clearly carrying plenty of rust, Cubs righty Yu Darvish nevertheless turned in a rather promising first spring outing today, as MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian writes. Darvish says he felt great and the radar guns reflected it. While he struggled a bit to stay in the zone, that’s a secondary concern at this point given the major health ailments that ruined his 2018 season. With $101MM still owed to Darvish over the next five years, the Cubs have to be encouraged to see him feeling strong, though he still has a ways to go to reestablish himself as a front-line starter.
More health notes from the central divisions …
- Reds right-hander Sonny Gray, who was scratched from his spring debut due to some elbow stiffness, is expected to throw a bullpen session Thursday, writes MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand. The team’s most notable offseason addition to the rotation, Gray will also throw from flat ground at a distance of 120 feet today, per the Cincinnati Enquirer’s John Fay (Twitter link). Manager David Bell told Feinsand that Gray was initially concerned about the elbow discomfort but is in vastly better spirits and has felt improvement each day since being scratched. For the time being, it seems, the Reds have decreasing reason to be concerned about Gray’s status.
- The Royals are “backing off” from using Danny Duffy for the time being, manager Ned Yost tells reporters (Twitter links via Lynn Worthy of the Kansas City Star). The southpaw experienced tightness in his shoulder and had difficulty getting loose for his latest side session, though he eventually completed that session. Duffy feels it’s a minor issue and some standard-issue early spring stiffness. The Royals are already down a rotation candidate with righty Trevor Oaks perhaps headed for hip surgery, and subtracting arguably their most talented starter from the mix would be a considerably more damaging blow. Duffy, 30, struggled through a down season in 2018 but was Kansas City’s best arm in 2016-17 when he worked to a 3.64 ERA with 8.8 K/9 against 2.3 BB/9 in 326 innings.
- There was some ominous news out of White Sox camp, as Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com tweets that pitching prospect Dane Dunning is due for a closer medical look after experiencing forearm discomfort. The talented young righty has shown quite well ever since he cracked the professional ranks and entered the 2018 campaign as a consensus top-100 prospect leaguewide. Unfortunately, he missed half of the 2018 season owing to an elbow sprain. The hope was that Dunning would be able to pick up where he left off this spring.