MESA, Ariz. — For the Chicago Cubs, one of those silly-but-great February traditions — the first-day-of-spring-training news conference with the triumvirate of Manager Joe Maddon, General Manager Jed Hoyer and team president Theo Epstein — found itself, by necessity, usurped by one of those silly-but-great traditions that typically come in December or January: the unveiling, complete with the ceremonial donning of cap and uniform, of the team’s shiny, new, high-priced acquisition.
And so, Tuesday afternoon, a roughly 20-foot-by-30-foot room set up as workspace for about 15 media members found itself crammed with nearly 100 people — dozens of journalists from Chicago and Japan, the Cubs’ brass, a couple of agents and the person chiefly responsible for this mash-up of winter and spring rites: right-handed pitcher Yu Darvish.
There is a reason elite free agents generally are not unveiled on the first day of spring training. In almost every previous offseason, players the caliber of Darvish — whose six-year, $125 million deal with the Cubs was made official Tuesday — have typically signed their contracts in December, or January at the latest. They have traveled to the team’s home city, met the media there and become familiar enough to the fan base that their arrival in camp the following spring is little more than a footnote.
But this was no typical offseason, and Darvish’s introductory news conference, which bled over into the welcome-to-spring media session with Maddon, Hoyer and Epstein, contained an uncomfortable underpinning of the sort that is certain to be one of the biggest story lines in the game, leaguewide, this spring — the result of the unprecedented slow-moving nature of this winter’s free agent market and the labor unrest it has engendered.
“I’ve always said if there is no team that meets our requirement,” Darvish told the media through a translator, referring …read more
Source:: The Denver Post