By Thalia Bardell, howiGit Contributing Writer, Boston, MA
The Boston Herald’s Red Sox Blog published a story entitled “How Daisuke Might Pitch When He’s Not The Story,” in mid-February — when I read it I was skeptical. Daisuke was described as arriving at Spring Training “tanned and relaxed.” Tanned, alright, but relaxed? I haven’t seen Daisuke look relaxed since he showed up stateside in ’07 – every time he’s on the rubber he gets that weird eyebrow crinkle where he looks like he’s about to cry, and he’s always sweating, no matter the season. I’m at the game in a layer of Under Armor and he’s out there sweating. The point the story made was now that Daisuke is not at the center of both Japanese and American media attention he will finally have the chance to be a normal pitcher.
Consider this — Daisuke’s spring training ERA is 10.80 — if this is “normal” then we’re in for along season. Granted he’s only had two outings and it is just spring training, but Clay Buchholz has only had two outings and his ERA is zero. I’m in Ft. Myer’s now and had the (not-so-great) pleasure of watching Daisuke pitch on Saturday afternoon against the Florida Marlins. The man got lit up. Fine, he was working on his off-speed pitches, Saltalamacchia says his curveball looks better than ever, and the Dice himself was unconcerned with the start, but I’m stillsitting out there watching him give up seven runs in an 11-2 loss. Honestly, I don’t care if Daisuke feels good, because I don’t feel good about the perceived “best team in baseball” getting embarrassed by the Florida Marlins.
The Herald can write what they want about Daisuke, if people want to project that this year he might get back to the brief dominance he achieved throughout his ’08 season with the Sox that’s fine with me, but in a pitcher I appreciate consistency. (To those who are thinking, brief! He went 18 and 3 that season! I say for the amount of money are paying this guy I should get a couple more of those kinds of seasons before he earns the adjective “dominant.”) This is why my favorite Sox are Lester and Buchholz, even Lackey, who although not dominant last year came out to the mound with consistent stuff for every start and, arguably, just didn’t get enough run support. If you like a pitcher that dazzles once every five starts then Daisuke is your man, but I prefer dependable performance to the occasional sparkle. So while the Herald waits around for “tanned,” “relaxed,” “new look Dice-K” to show up to Fenway park, I’ll be sitting on my hands waiting for his damned contract to run out. Is it 2013 yet?