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Cubs' Darvish 'felt pretty good' in spring debut

MESA, Ariz. -- After dealing with various arm injuries and trying to adjust to a new team, Yu Darvish was pleased with his spring debut. Pumped, in fact.

Darvish may have walked four and lasted only 1 1/3 innings Tuesday for the Chicago Cubs, but it was an important start for him.

"This is like my first outing in my life," Darvish said. "I haven't thrown the last seven months. I was so excited."

Darvish faced the Arizona Diamondbacks in his first game since a minor league rehab start last August for Class A South Bend. He had signed a six-year, $126 million contract with the Cubs last February, but battled injuries and was limited to eight starts before he was shut down. He was sidelined with right triceps tendinitis and then diagnosed in August with a stress reaction in his right elbow, which led to arthroscopic surgery in September.

So by that measure, this spring performance was a success.

"I felt pretty good physically. No pain, that was a huge part," Darvish said.

Another change -- now he's joking in English, opting not to use a translator this season.

"Interpreters are expensive for the organization, right? That's why," Darvish said. "It's good for me, too. I have experience with you guys and I can use more English."

Said Cubs manager Joe Maddon: "He appears to be much more relaxed and definitely into the flow of things."

"He's been throwing really well. Conversationally, he's much more at ease," Maddon said.

Darvish threw 19 pitches against five D-backs hitters in the first inning at Sloan Park, and got only one swing and miss, then had to wait while the Cubs sent nine batters to the plate in a four-run first.

In the second, Darvish threw 17 pitches to three batters before he was lifted. He walked four in 1 1/3 innings.

When Darvish made that rehab outing in South Bend, his fastball registered at 86-89 mph. On Tuesday, his fastballs were between 94-96 mph.

"Yeah, it was a great day for me," he said.

His teammates have noticed Darvish seems happier.

"I feel I'm smiling more than the last seven years," Darvish said.

Game notes
Cubs INF David Bote, hit in the helmet by a pitch from Giants ace Madison Bumgarner on Sunday, was expected to return to action on Wednesday. Bumgarner called Bote after the game and also sent him a text message the next day. "He definitely did not have to do that but he did and it means a lot," Bote said. ... LHP Mike Montgomery, who has yet to appear in a game, threw a bullpen on Tuesday. The Cubs will wait two days to see the next step for Montgomery, who is going through a "dead arm" phase. ... Chicago OF Jason Heyward was a late scratch from Tuesday's lineup for personal reasons. ... An MRI revealed that Arizona outfielder Jarrod Dyson has a left oblique strain.