Willson Contreras expressed his thoughts on Yu Darvish’s fifth-inning implosion against the Rockies to the media. Now, some people are going to run with these quotes and interpret them out of context. Personally, I’d caution readers to be wary of the fact that these two exceptional players speak English as their second language, and, as for Yu, communicates and listens through an interpreter. These considerations cannot be ignored.
“To me, it looked like [Darvish] got too comfortable once he got two outs. He did it a few times. In the fifth it was crucial for us. He got us f***** up,” said Willson Contreras after Yu Darvish couldn’t escape the fifth inning in Saturday’s loss to the Rockies.
Willson’s quote is going to be highlighted and possibly viewed as intrusive criticism. Keep in mind, however, that these quotes were preceded by Willson’s praise of the tall Japanese flame-thrower. “[Darvish] was unbelievable,” Willson said. “He was executing every pitch. He was making them look really uncomfortable at the plate. But after two outs in the last inning, he made a lot of mistakes with the cutters.”
The Cubs catcher finished his thoughts by hoping Saturday’s loss can be a learning experience for the battery mates. “In the big leagues, no matter how many outs there are, you have to keep attacking the hitters,” Contreras said. “After the second out, I saw him throwing 91-92 mph with his fastball, like he was trying to locate the fastball. So I told him, you can’t get too comfortable in the big leagues. You have to keep attacking the hitters. I hope we learn from that.”
Darvish doesn’t think Contreras’ explanation is truly the problem, though. “[Contrereas] told me the same thing during the game,” Darvish stated. “But I don’t think so. I treat every pitch, every at-bat the same regardless of how many outs I have.”
Others in the Chicago media inquired about Darvish’s mental fortitude after the game, thinking that Darvish’s recent troubles are a byproduct of mental weakness. When one reporter asked Darvish whether the implosion was similar to his struggles after balking in the fifth during the previous start, Darvish responded that he is going to work on it (obviously).
Darbvish asked about fighting through adversity: “That’s something I have to overcome. Its definitely my problem. Something I have to work on.”
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) April 22, 2018
Again, I really want to emphasize here that Darvish is listening and speaking through an interpreter. To run with the new Cubs pitcher’s comments without considering the language limitations is completely unfair. And to suggest that Darvish’s struggles are because he is mentally incapable of handling adversity is astonishingly ignorant. This is a man who blew past the reigning World Series champion Chicago Cubs in last year’s NLCS on one of the biggest stages. No mental problems there. Then he got lit up in the World Series partially because he was tipping pitches against one of the best hitting squads, Houston Astros, over the last few decades. I think it takes a lot of mental strength to move to a foreign country, assimilate, and dominate the competition.
I won’t say that Darvish is mentally incapable of handling stressors. I won’t say that he doesn’t need to work through some things. What I will say is that I don’t know what his issues are and neither does anyone following the sport in collared shirts in the press box. The only qualified people who are able to absolutely capture Darvish’s struggles are wearing jerseys in the dugout, crunching numbers in Cubs polos at Wrigley, or meditating in Mesa. The rest of us only get a snapshot of what’s actually going in Darvish’s head.