ATLANTA — The Chicago Cubs will have to wait at least five more days to find out if starter Yu Darvish is past his fifth-inning woes as the righty was pulled after four innings on Tuesday due to cramping in his right calf.
Darvish, 31, is off to a rocky start with his new team but pitched well against the Atlanta Braves until the cramping issue popped up. After informing the training staff of the ailment, as well as manager Joe Maddon, he was taken out in favor of long man Mike Montgomery.
“I was expecting him to go back out there,” Maddon said after the Cubs’ 3-2 win. “The trainers came up to me and told me he felt (some) cramping issues in the fourth (inning). Yu wanted to go back out but I said ‘No, I don’t think that’s wise.’ Having been ill recently it just doesn’t make any sense.”
Darvish had just come off the 10-day disabled list on Tuesday after missing a start due to a flu-like illness. He claims he was unable to stay in top condition while sick.
“Definitely the worst I’ve ever experienced,” Darvish said through his interpreter. “Even after 10 days. I was coughing and even going upstairs made me tired … I thought I was 100 percent coming in. Once I started pitching I wasn’t 100 percent. Next four days I’ll eat a lot, train a lot and become 100 percent again.”
Darvish was pitching well before he was pulled, giving up just a solo home run to Ender Inciarte in the bottom of the fourth. Darvish said some recent mechanical changes have helped. He struck out five on Tuesday but never got the chance to lower his mammoth fifth-inning ERA which still stands at 31.50.
“It was really important that I go out there and throw the fifth inning,” Darvish said. “I was expecting to go out there. I wanted to let Joe know of my calf just in case.”
Maddon took the safer route by pulling Darvish, though it probably won’t help alleviate questions about him. He had a 6.00 ERA coming into the game.
“Dehydration is such a nasty little thing,” Maddon stated. “A lot of times it’s not given enough credit. People say ‘Eh, it’s not a big deal.’ But it is. It was something I didn’t want to press or push and it worked out well.”
The Cubs won the game with a two-run ninth inning, but it’s the steps that Darvish takes that are the most important. The first objective is to keep him healthy. He missed some time in spring training with a stomach ailment, then felt some arm cramping in his Cubs debut in Miami in late March before falling ill recently. He blames the calf issue strictly on the illness.
“It was more like fatigue because I was out for so long,” he said. “I haven’t been able to train for the past 10 days. My weight has gone down as well as endurance and stamina.”