Right-hander Yu Darvish is starting to let it loose in his bullpen sessions.
He threw 25 pitches in his sixth bullpen session on Friday morning, his third off a regular-sized mound. Catcher Chris Gimenez was crouched on the plate instead of back behind in the normal spot.
Pitching coach Doug Brocail said when Darvish resumes with his program, most likely Monday, the catcher will setup in the normal position for Darvish for the first time this spring. He’ll go back down to 15 pitches to ease into throwing the normal length.
“Just so he gets a feel for that added distance,” Brocail said. “I think he realizes he’s getting near the end and nobody will be happier than him, trust me. He’s getting antsy.”
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Gimenez noticed some added velocity on Friday and said Darvish was in the high-80s to 91 mph with his fastballs. He threw 17 fastballs, two changeups and worked on his slider.
“Slider looked pretty crisp,” said Brocail who had noticed Darvish is talking and smiling more as he gets closer to full speed. “There was no breakdown in his delivery [on changeups]. He’s getting a good release point, good finish on the ball. I’m very happy with the progression that is being made.”
Gimenez is noticing a change in Darvish, too. Adding more cutters, Gimenez said, is a good sign because it forces Darvish to put a little more torque on his arm.
“He was getting after it today. I told him it was good to see him kind of let it loose a little bit and start testing it and get a feel for it,” Gimenez said. “I told him to stop being a wuss and start throwing a 100 already.”