Yu Darvish’s perspective will always be something I remember as a benchmarking device when I think back on 2020 and the pandemic.
All the way back at the Cubs Convention in mid-January, when he was asked about the outbreak of a novel coronavirus in his native Japan, Darvish expressed much more concern than anyone else was at the time. Perhaps it was his personal geographic connection, or perhaps he was simply a lot wiser than most of us were at that time. He was right to be concerned. Obviously.
Even now, as he prepares to pitch in MLB’s abbreviated 2020 season amid the now-worsening pandemic, Darvish is still concerned. He is not ready to say for sure that he wouldn’t consider opting out at some point this year, but much of that rides on what he sees from his teammates. And so far, that’s been good.
Darvish on coronavirus concerns: it was a tough decision (to play). “I still have concerns.”
— Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) July 12, 2020
Yu Darvish asked if he still may change his mind about playing.”Well maybe,but at this point no I don t think so.” Darvish went on to say he was comfortable with the environment the Cubs have provided for the players.
— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) July 12, 2020
Darvish said he needed to see how serious the Cubs/teammates were treating the COVID-19 situation. And if he felt like they weren't taking it serious, he would go home.
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) July 12, 2020
Like all players, Darvish is entitled to his personal and familial perspective on playing this year. If at any point he no longer feels comfortable, then he should feel empowered to opt out without anyone perceiving it as him “leaving” his team. I say that now, because I want to make sure, for our part, we’re communicating this clearly to fans. I don’t care what the state of the season is or the success or failure of the Cubs – if a player and his family decide at any point they need to be done, then that’s just fine.
For now, though, Darvish is here. His teammates are taking this very seriously. And if he makes a go of it this year, I really do believe Darvish is going to dominate. He was in such a good place in the second half last year, and seemed to be carrying it forward into the spring.