Don't worry, Chicago. Yu Darvish knows you have his back.
Darvish, who landed a $126-million deal with the Cubs over the winter, hasn't lived up to expectations in his first season at Wrigley Field. He's been largely ineffective when healthy, and has been on the disabled list for several weeks thanks to triceps tendinitis. This awful start to his career on the North Side apparently led to some hostile feelings toward him from Cubs fans - at least, that's what Cubs catcher Chris Gimenez, a close friend of Darvish's, claimed the right-hander was feeling two weeks ago.
"I think he thinks that Chicago hates him for going on the DL a couple of times," Gimenez said on May 30. "He reads Twitter. He reads all that stuff. ... Honestly, I know it upsets him - and rightfully so."
On Tuesday, the 31-year-old Darvish spoke to Gimenez's claims for the first time, and clarified that he doesn't actually feel unloved in his new city.
"In regards to Chicago (fans), I'm not sure what Chris was thinking," Darvish told ESPN's Jerry Crasnick via an interpreter. "The fans here are very supportive. Even in my situation, they come to me when they see me in town and say, 'Thanks for the performance.' I really do feel the support."
The four-time All-Star is currently in the midst of his worst statistical season since arriving in MLB seven years ago. When he suffered the triceps injury that sent him to the DL for a second time this year (he also missed time due to a virus), Darvish had thrown just 40 innings in a Cubs uniform, crafting a 4.95 ERA and 1.425 WHIP. Though he's still striking batters out at a high rate, he's issued 21 walks and is allowing 4.7 bases on balls per nine innings, well above his career average.
Darvish threw 30 pitches in a bullpen session on Tuesday that impressed members of the Cubs' coaching staff, according to Crasnick. Still, there's no immediate timetable for his return to the rotation.