Manager Joe Maddon believes the Cubs will be rewarded for their patience with pitcher Yu Darvish.
Should Darvish pitch well Wednesday night against the Reds, that could set up a showdown Monday against the Phillies and former Cub Jake Arrieta.
Maddon went as far to say that Darvish, who walked six in his last start Thursday against the Marlins, could ascend as quickly as Arrieta did after he joined the Cubs in a 2013 trade with the Orioles.
"(Darvish) is too good," Maddon said. "There will be that mental epiphany, or whatever you want to call it. It's going to happen.
"I know he's going to take off, then you'll see that incredible run he's going to be on. I'm not just saying that."
But Darvish has taxed the patience of Cubs fans. Darvish is 3-6 with a 5.17 ERA in 16 starts with the Cubs, and he missed the final four months of 2018 because of an elbow injury.
Arrieta, who went 68-31 with a 2.73 ERA in 4 1/2 seasons with the Cubs, is 14-14 with a 3.92 ERA in 39 starts with the Phillies. Darvish has a better strikeouts per nine innings rate (10.8) than Arrieta (7.3) since joining the Cubs, but his walk rate (6.3) has infuriated Cubs fans.
The Cubs never reached any common negotiating ground with Arrieta and shifted their sights toward Darvish after the 2017 season.
Status quo for Javier Baez
Cubs President Theo Epstein and Maddon reiterated that Javier Baez is firmly entrenched at shortstop, in response to a radio report that suggested that Addison Russell eventually would regain his old position and Baez would move around the infield.
"As we talked about a week or two ago, it makes sense to give (Baez) some reliability knowing he's going to be in the lineup every day playing shortstop," Epstein said.
Said Maddon: "For right now, nothing is going to change what you're seeing."
Maddon added that Daniel Descalso, Russell and David Bote will continue to rotate at second base, with Russell getting a start at short if Baez receives a rest or is taken out of a blowout game.
Ben Zobrist remains out indefinitely
Maddon has stayed in contact with Zobrist through text messages but reiterated the switch-hitting infielder remains on the restricted list while he attends to a family matter.
Meanwhile, catcher Victor Caratini (left hamate bone) is close to rejoining the team as he concludes a minor-league rehab assignment at Triple-A Iowa.
Closer Brandon Morrow (right elbow) could resume a throwing program in Arizona within a week. Reliever Tony Barnette (right shoulder) is scheduled to pitch one inning Wednesday in extended spring training, where infield prospect Nico Hoerner (left hand) will start a hitting program.
Pitcher Adbert Alzolay (left lat strain) will pitch Friday for Iowa.