Cubs

Here’s hoping Yu Darvish returns to health soon and makes the haters pay

I hope Yu Darvish gets to make his critics look like the blathering fools they are.

I hope the Cubs right-hander comes back this season and lights the world on fire. I hope he makes Alex Rodriguez and whomever has been whispering in A-Rod’s ear eat their words. I hope Darvish gets the chance to say to people, A) “What part of ‘I’m injured’ didn’t you understand” and, B) “See how good I am when my arm doesn’t feel like it’s been hit 50 times by a mallet?”

Until Rodriguez offered his comments on ESPN about what he sees as the pitcher’s pariah clubhouse status, Darvish had only been the scapegoat for the failings of the Cubs’ rotation. Now, thanks to Rodriguez’s criticisms, Darvish is a national spectacle, a soft, weak-minded man who shouldn’t be poisoning the team with his presence.

Except that he has been injured. He has been sick and injured. When the topic is Darvish, all sorts of things get thrown into the equation – his massive contract, his terrible struggles in last year’s World Series, his reputation for being temperamental, etc. – but he has been injured.

Cubs pitcher Yu Darvish has struggled this season with sickness and injuries. (Getty Images)

One question stops all the nonsense that has been said about him and all the accusations that have been thrown his way: Why wouldn’t he pitch if he physically could? There is no reasonable answer.

No one in his right mind would want to spend weeks rehabbing a triceps injury if it weren’t necessary. No one would want to marinate in a pot of idleness.

Baseball is what Darvish does. He’s a four-time All-Star who has been dominant at times in his career. To suggest that someone who already has had Tommy John surgery is soft because he feels pain in the same area that led to that procedure is ridiculous.

But that’s where we are, with A-Rod recently adding to the contamination. He might have been a monumental steroids cheater as a player, but he has rehabilitated his image enough to be able to go on national TV and impugn someone else’s character. What a country.

Say this for A-Rod: He gave voice to the ugly whispers that have been around Darvish all season. It’s a wonder anyone has been able to see the pitcher at all this season, what with the way people have piled on him via social media.

While Tyler Chatwood, Kyle Hendricks and Jose Quintana have struggled to varying degrees this season, Darvish has taken the brunt of the abuse for being injured. Cubs starters are ninth in the National League with a 4.17 ERA. Apparently, Darvish is to blame for that, too.

He might be sensitive, as the knock against him goes. If he is, it makes him like about half of all major-league ballplayers. It’s why, when the Cubs’ sports psychologist died last month, players took the loss hard. They had gone to him to deal with stress and to talk about their self-doubts. It’s called being human.

We haven’t left any room for Darvish to be human.

Earlier in the season, teammate and friend Chris Gimenez told the Sun-Times that Darvish thought Cubs fans hated him. Darvish later said he didn’t feel that way, though it was hard to blame him if he did. You don’t need an interpreter to understand civic disappointment or, worse, disgust. It’s easy to say a veteran should be above worrying about what outsiders think, but it’s not easily done.

The Cubs gave Darvish a six-year, $126 million contract in the offseason, and they allowed fan favorite Jake Arrieta to go to the Phillies. That’s part of the problem here. Workout fanatic Arrieta on one side, injured Darvish on the other. Cy Young Award winner and World Series champ Jake over there, and do-nothing Yu over here. Who’s going to win that perception battle?

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It’s hard to feel sorry for someone who will make $25 million this season. Probably close to impossible for many people. There’s no doubt the money is being held against him. If A-Rod has a source in the clubhouse who fed him the nonsense that an injured Darvish is in teammates’ way, you can bet the huge contract is driving the animosity.

It is possible to pitch with a sore arm. Possible and very, very stupid. There must be a purpose in wanting him to gut through an injury and throw against big-league hitters, but, for the life of me, I don’t know what it would be.

No one is questioning Cubs closer Brandon Morrow, who is out with an arm injury and has also been plagued by injuries throughout his career. Darvish gets all the questions.

Here’s a question for the haters: What are you going to do if he comes back healthy and carries his team into the postseason and beyond?

Answer: You won’t have time to deny everything. You’ll be too busy cheering.

Sun-Times sports columnists Rick Morrissey and Rick Telander are co-hosts of a new podcast called “The Two Ricks: Unfiltered.” Don’t miss their candid, amusing takes on everything from professional teams tanking to overzealous sports parents and more. Download and subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts and Google Play, or via RSS feed.