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Chicago Cubs star pitcher Yu Darvish makes rehab start in South Bend

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - The South Bend Cubs pride themselves on offering fans a chance to see future stars take their first steps towards the big leagues.

But every once in a while, a current star will make an appearance. And that’s exactly what happened on Monday with Chicago Cubs pitcher Yu Darvish coming to town.

“We’re kind of a small, quaint ballpark,” said South Bend Cubs president Joe Hart, “so anytime our fans have an opportunity to experience that, it’s phenomenal.”

The stands at Four Winds Field were packed for a rare chance to see a Major League star.

Darvish donned a South Bend uniform in front of nearly 7,000 fans as the Cubs’ $126 million man works his way back into the rotation after a triceps injury left him on the disabled list.

Monday’s rehab assignment saw the Japanese right-hander toss five strikeouts across five innings – though he did surrender one run on a solo homer in the third.

All in all, though, a solid outing in his mind.

“It’s day by day,” said Darvish, who also mentioned he had some tightness – but not pain – in that right triceps after the game.

“I had some anxiety coming into this game as I did in the simulated game [last week]. In that sense, it’s the same, but hopefully I can build my confidence going forward.”

Darvish represents the fourth rehab assignment at Four Winds Field since South Bend became a Cubs affiliate.

After hosting a few recent rehab stints, including Dexter Fowler and two from Jason Heyward, the South Bend staff knows what is expected when handling a high-profile player in this situation.

“In South Bend, we’re going to provide the best facilities possible for players that are here and the Big League guys,” said Hart. “I think that says a lot, because we set out from day one to take care of anybody, whether it was a Single-A player or a Major League player.”

Darvish agreed, saying he himself was impressed in his short stay in South Bend.

“It’s a great facility,” he said. “The only concern is that it’s so great so I’m worried if the players will try to achieve higher levels because the facility is already top notch.”

Monday was the first game action for Darvish since his last start for Chicago on May 20.

He plans to meet the Chicago Cubs immediately in Los Angeles to discuss the next move, which depending on his performance and recovery from the South Bend start, could mean his return to the Cubs’ rotation as early as this weekend.

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