Welcome to the Yu
On a crisp Wednesday afternoon in Peoria, Arizona, a certain right-hander made his much-anticipated spring training debut against an actual team, rather than teammates.
As the San Diego Padres and Texas Rangers locked horns in front of over 200 media members, and at least that many spectators, you could certainly feel the buzz in the air (and through the Internet.)
Naturally, I’m speaking of former Texas Rangers’ pitching prospect, Joe Wieland.
Or as that weird corduroy-clad kid in fourth grade used to say: “No doy.”
Twenty years later and I’m still not sure what the heck that phrase means. It certainly makes spellcheck angry.
I clearly recall offering that dude two chocolate snack packs for his dilapidated peanut butter and jelly sandwich—relishing as I reeled him in—only to scream “Psych!” at the last possible moment, nullifying the ludicrous potential transaction.
Anyways, you remember Joe Wieland. He threw a no-hitter in his last start before being shipped to San Diego, which is Spanish for…well, you know.
Wieland—who, along with Robbie Erlin, was packaged in the deal that netted Mike Adams—worked the standard spring training load of two innings on Wednesday.
More like substandard.
His outing is best described by simply stating that, well; Jeff Suppan outpitched him. Yep, that Jeff Suppan. The same one that languished in Triple-A for the Royals last season, never getting the call up to the bigs. Yep, those Royals. When Bruce Chen is blocking your path to the show… So, Joe Wieland is why all the media were on hand in Peoria. Duh.
Wieland was barely a bad peanut butter sandwich, whereas Darvish was easily the chocolate snack pack—all that, and maybe, just maybe, a bag of chips too.
Yes sir or madam, this day was all about the Yu, as in Darvish, not the Miami Hurricanes.
To understand Darvish’s excellent outing, you really need delve no deeper than his line:
IP: 2.0 H: 2 R: 0 ER:0 BB: 0 SO: 3 ERA: 0.00
But what fun is that?
Never have 36 pitches been so scrutinized. It’s cliché, but now, dear Rangers fans, we can all bask in the glory of knowing what it’s like to have a true “rock star” type of player in our very own blues and reds.
No kidding, the hype surrounding Darvish has been so immeasurable that when I saw 157 light up after one of his pitches, I honestly thought it was in miles per hour rather than kilometers.
Turns out, of course, that 157 KPH translates to approximately 141 MPH. Or something like that.
Anyways, over the aforementioned 36 tosses—all of which suspiciously came from the stretch position—26 were strikes, and only two fell for hits, both doubles.
The hardest hit ball of Darvish’s outing came off the bat of Padres right fielder Will Venable. The pitch, a fastball, was struck so soundly that it seemed destined to be the world’s first two-run, solo shot.
Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. I mean, c’mon Venable, that’s Yu Darvish, main!
Venable’s blast hit the gigantic monolith in centerfield that members of the Japanese media were seen constructing prior to the game’s first pitch. Hey, they have retractable roofs, right? Why not retractable home run-stoppers?
Truth be told, Darvish’s outing was nothing short of spectacular. Not only did he show off his wipeout slider and electric fastball, Darvish also made a very athletic play on a line drive up the middle in the second inning.
Using every inch of his 6’ 5” frame to snare the liner, Darvish astutely threw to catcher Yorvit Torrealba nailing what would have been the go-ahead run.
And yes, I realize this is just spring training. And no, I’m not drinking my “Yu Darvish kool-aid.” I am, however, contemplating dying my hair orange.
In summary, Joe Wieland is the real deal, folks.
For Texas Rangers’ fans, it’s all about the Yu.