Theo Epstein says Yu Darvish is feeling better

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    But the Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations stopped short of providing a schedule for the injured starter’s return.
    Darvish signed a $126 million , six-year deal with the Cubs in February. He is 1-3 with a 4.95 ERA in eight starts and didn’t earn his first win until May 20 in Cincinnati. He went on the disabled list on May 26 with tendinitis in his right triceps.
    Darvish suffered pain during a June 28 bullpen session in Los Angeles, which prevented him from throwing naturally. The 31-year-old traveled to the Dallas-Ft. Worth area the following day to get an opinion from Dr. Keith Meister, an orthopedic surgeon who is one of the Texas Rangers’ team physicians.
    Darvish got a new diagnosis – right elbow impingement and inflammation – as well as a cortisone shot. The Cubs said it would take several days for the injection to ”settle in.”
    ”I think it’s been a good couple of days for him, but he’s still in that strengthening mode,” Epstein said Friday before the Cubs hosted the Cincinnati Reds. ”We’re not going to set any timetables yet until he moves from the strengthening phase to the throwing phase.
    ”A lot of it depends on how he continues to feel and how the throwing goes,” Epstein added. ”We won’t rush him.”
    Meanwhile, slugger Kris Bryant, out since with June 22 with left shoulder imflammation, batted on Friday and ”had a really good day in the cage,” Epstein said.
    Bryant was eligible to return from the disabled list on Tuesday. The 2016 National League MVP could return to the Cubs any day or go on a brief rehab assignment.
    Bryant is batting .280 with nine homers and 36 RBIs in 66 games this season.
    ”We’re going to get together to see whether he wants or needs a rehab assignment just to test it in a game situation before he comes back,” Epstein said.
    Bryant had been experiencing pain on his swing follow-through.
    ”The shoulder is an important joint to the swing, especially with the swing and finish he has,” Epstein said. ”I don’t know we expected it to be this long . he needs to execute his swing and feel good.”

    GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst insisted he went into the NFL draft prepared to go for the best available player with each of Green Bay’s eight picks.He thinks that plan worked out well for its biggest need: Defense.“I feel really good right now” about the defense Zach Gentry Jersey , said Gutekunst on Saturday after finishing his second draft with Green Bay.“These guys have to come together as a team, and that takes a lot of work and a lot of time. I’m excited about (second-year defensive coordinator) Mike Pettine and the second year in the system, but the additions we made, I think we’re very optimistic about what these guys can do.”First-round picks Michigan edge rusher Rashan Gary and Maryland safety Darnell Savage, who the Packers traded up to get, should have an immediate impact for Pettine.On Saturday, three of the Packers’ four picks were defensive players: Texas A&M defensive lineman Kingsley Keke, Toledo cornerback Ka’dar Hollman and TCU inside linebacker Ty Summers.“I think we’ve added a lot of playmakers on the defensive side of the ball,” Packers first-year head coach Matt LaFleur said. “I think we definitely upgraded our ability to rush the passer. Being an offensive coach, there’s nothing harder on an offense, especially if you can rotate guys through.”In his first year as defensive coordinator, Pettine’s injury-filled unit finished the season ranked 18th in total defense (354.4 yards per game) and 22nd in scoring defense (25.0 points per game). In his previous seasons as the defensive coordinator for the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills, Pettine had never had a group finish outside the top 10 in total defense.Having already added three projected starters on defense in free agency in outside linebackers Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith and safety Adrian Amos, the Packers have only a few projected defensive contributors who are older than 26: Cornerback Tramon Williams (35) L.J. Collier Jersey , defensive lineman Mike Daniels (29) and outside linebacker Kyler Fackrell (27).“Again, a lot of these guys — last year’s draft — and some of the guys we acquired … obviously there’s an adjustment period,” Gutekunst said. “But I’m really excited about what we have.”WHO THEY GOTWhile the focus turned out to be on defense, the Packers did fill two glaring offensive needs: Offensive line depth and a young, athletic tight end. In the second round, they took Mississippi State center/guard Elgton Jenkins, who should compete for the starting right guard job. In the third, they got Texas A&M tight end Jace Sternberger, who will develop behind veterans Jimmy Graham and Marcedes Lewis. Sternberger, who the Packers feel can be both an effective pass catcher and in-line blocker, could flourish in LaFleur’s system.“Jace, he’s got a pretty cool skill set. He’s a tight end who can separate,” LaFleur said. “That becomes a little bit of a matchup nightmare for a defense.”SURPRISE MOVEGutekunst used both of the team’s fourth-round picks to trade up to get Savage. Gutekunst said he had to make that trade to ensure he got him — “I know for a fact we would not have gotten him at 30,” he said — but it did make for a difficult morning.“Historically , we’ve tried not to have those gaps,” Gutekunst said. “It was a long wait. But our numbers were strong, which was nice.”HOW THEY DIDWhen he watched the Packers defense last season, Gutekunst felt Pettine didn’t have what he really needed — versatile players. And now Gutenkunst feels he’s given Pettine a more flexible crew.“Mike’s big on moving pieces, and I thought we needed to get a lot more pieces for him to move around,” Gutekunst said. “I feel much better now than I did previously.”WHAT’S NEXT?Having been more active in free agency than they had been under Gutekunst’s predecessor, Ted Thompson, the Packers have most of the pieces they plan to go into training camp with. That said, Gutekunst has said from the moment he got the GM job that he will use every avenue of player acquisition, and the team also has a history with undrafted players contributing.The team did stand pat at wide receiver, but having picked three receivers in last year’s draft, that wasn’t entirely surprising.

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