Despite some major concerns about Major League Baseball’s health and safety protocols, and the COVID-19 pandemic that is casting a blanket of uneasiness around the start of the 2020 MLB season, Cubs pitcher Yu Darvish says he’s, “ready to pitch.”
Darvish spoke to the media this afternoon at Wrigley Field, and through an interpreter, he shared his concerns on the virus and the impending start to the 2020 campaign.
Darvish has made it clear throughout this entire process, that he was originally very uneasy about the idea of resuming baseball this year, and had to weigh the health of his family into his decision to ultimately report to Cubs’ camp.
“It was tough because I have small children,” Darvish related through an interpreter. “In the spring we had a lot of thoughts about that, It was a tough decision but everyone is doing it (playing). Everyone has concerns but everyone (Cubs) decided to play so it makes it easier for me to make a decision to play.”
Darvish expressed that he’s pretty happy with the process taking place, and the Cubs’ efforts to keep the players and coaches safe. Darvish pointed out that he’s a big fan of the split groups that they’ve used to get their work in thus far, and made it clear that despite deciding to show up, if things weren’t running smoothly, he was prepared to go back home.
“I came here to make sure everybody’s doing the right thing. I had in my mind if they’re not, I was ready to go home.”
While Darvish doesn’t see himself reversing course at this point, he wouldn’t completely rule out a change of heart.
With Jose Quintana slated to miss some time at the front-end of the 60-game schedule, and Jon Lester just working his way back into form, Cubs’ manager David Ross said earlier today that he’ll be counting on Darvish to provide some stability to their rotation from day one.
“He’s extremely important,” Ross said. “You know the way he finished the season last year, and how good he was for us, that’s the guy we’re counting on. He’s been around a long time now, he’s a veteran and has a veteran presence out there on the mound. He can do so much with the baseball.”
“For me, winning comes with pitching and defense and he is one of the best in the game when he’s locked in and right. That’s how I expect him to step out there, and we feel really good about our chances when he takes the bump.”
When Ross was asked about the seemingly growing plethora of pitches that Darvish has in his repertoire, Ross said that he’s all about trusting his veteran pitcher and letting him have the freedom to feel his way through his starts.
“The more freedom he has to feel like he can work his pitches into a scouting report, the better,” Ross said. “Again, it’s trying to put limitations on great players, sometimes we want to put them into a box and have them work from that box that we’re comfortable in, but we really haven’t seen a pitcher with his pitch mix and what he’s able to do with the baseball.”
“We’ve talked about letting a guy like Javy [Baez] be Javy, and we don’t want to put too many limitations on great athletes, we just want to steer them in the right direction and I think we’ve done that with Yu by embracing the scouting report as you saw last year with all the success he had really utilized that pitch mix. I try not to limit that too much.”
With so much importance on a hot-start during this unorthodox 60-games in 66-days sprint, David Ross and the Cubs will need Yu Darvish to pick up where he left off in 2019 and help anchor a rotation that continues to carry its fair share of question marks.
Feature Photo: Chicago Sun-Times