4 takeaways from Cubs spring training, including Yu Darvish leaving because of a blister and the search for relief help

Here are four takeaways from Cubs spring training Tuesday:

1. Yu Darvish downplayed the severity of a blister on his right ring finger.

Darvish said he doesn’t expect to miss his final spring start after developing a blister on his right ring finger that caused him to leave with two outs in the fifth inning against a group of Mariners minor-league players.

“I should be good for the next outing,” said Darvish, who likely will pitch Sunday in a minor-league game if the blister heals properly.

Darvish expects to receive laser treatment and cream to treat the blister. He plans to play catch Wednesday and throw a bullpen session Friday.

Darvish didn’t feel any discomfort until throwing a slider to Jake Fraley. He took himself out of the game to prevent compensating for the blister and risking injury to his shoulder or elbow.

Darvish experienced blister problems in his first start with the Rangers in 2013. But he didn’t miss a start and went on to post a 2.83 ERA with 277 strikeouts in 209 2/3 innings.

Darvish said the grip on his cut fastball caused the blister in 2013.

“I never had this before with the slider,” Darvish said.

Darvish struck out six with the aid of a 96-mph fastball but lamented the lack of command with his slider.

Darvish would like to increase his pitch count to 100 in his final spring start in preparation for his first start of the season, which should come against the Rangers on March 30 or 31.

2. The Cubs are still looking for relief help.

Manager Joe Maddon is scheduled to hold his annual preseason meeting with his players Wednesday to assess the spring and his expectations and goals.

Some of the players eventually will be sent to the minors or headed to the injured list. And there could be a newcomer or two, depending on the Cubs’ search for relief help.

A major-league source confirmed the Cubs are still looking for bullpen reinforcements to assist left-hander Mike Montgomery.

Brian Duensing has allowed six runs on six hits in his last three outings but has a guaranteed $3.5 million contract. Randy Rosario has allowed 11 hits in 5 2/3 innings over six games. Maddon likes Kyle Ryan’s tendency to induce ground balls, but Ryan has allowed three runs on five hits over his last two appearances.

3. Carl Edwards Jr. retaliates for Willson Contreras and gets ejected.

The lingering notion that Cubs pitchers don’t defend their batters was temporarily put to rest when Edwards nailed Austin Nola with a pitch and was ejected in the sixth inning by umpire Alfonso Marquez.

Edwards’ ejection came after Contreras was brushed back by Mariners sidearm reliever Wyatt Mills before getting hit by a pitch in the fifth. Contreras walked slowly to first base before stealing second.

Nola had a few words for Contreras after getting hit by Edwards, who was ejected.

Cubs slugger Kris Bryant was hit on the elbow by a pitch from starter Nabil Crismatt in the third after Anthony Rizzo bunted for a hit.

4. Cubs remain cautious with reliever Pedro Strop.

The Cubs will wait until the last possible moment to decide whether Pedro Strop’s right hamstring is healthy enough for him to start the season with the team.

“We’re trying to be a little bit overly cautious, but he’s doing very well,” Maddon said minutes after Strop threw a bullpen session without any discomfort.

“There’s a chance he may be ready. If not, like I told him, don’t push it right now. We don’t want to deal with issues during the course of the year.”

Strop hasn’t pitched in a game since March 9, but indications are that Strop will be ready.

In other medical news, infielder Daniel Descalso (left shoulder) did baseball drills without any discomfort.

Closer Brandon Morrow, who threw off a mound Monday for the first time since undergoing right elbow surgery in November, said his elbow felt fine and said he expects to throw up to six bullpen sessions before starting a minor-league rehab assignment.

Meanwhile, Morrow defended his fellow relievers who will try replace him until his expected return in May.

“We’re pretty well set up without me,” Morrow said. “We have guys with a lot of experience and track records.

“People get nervous about ‘closers.’ I think we’ve got a lot of guys who can handle that.”

Brad Brach pitched the ninth Tuesday and allowed a leadoff home run to Donnie Walton before working out of a jam to preserve a 6-4 win.

mgonzales@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @MDGonzales

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