Six days after the initial diagnosis, three days after a second orthopedist concurred, and at least one day after the third opinion came back the same as the first and second, the Texas Rangers finally announced that Yu Darvish is having Tommy John surgery next week.
The aforementioned timeline isn’t a complaint about unnecessary feet-dragging, but rather an example of the kind of thinking that makes Yu Darvish click and makes him a success.
It’s the kind of thinking that is going to help him navigate through season-ending elbow-reconstruction surgery and possibly have him back on a big league mound sooner than most recipients of the procedure.
That’s what many don’t understand about Darvish. Even those in the same clubhouse and in the front office didn’t grasp it until recently.
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For all the diva stuff, and there’s a good-sized dose of diva in Darvish, he is a player who thinks on a deeper level than the average player and is constantly looking at any angle, on and off the field, to be better.
“The best of the best are usually like that for a reason, more than just physical talent,” general manager Jon Daniels said.
If anything, much about Darvish has been misunderstood by many.
It isn’t easy being him, but that’s the way he operates.
He’s an explorer, always looking for the next-best thing to help make him better. At the same time, though, he’s also a cautious man who can be resistant to suggestions.
Having been in the spotlight since high school, the right-hander is wary of media and of people who might want too badly to help him. He is very aware of his image, part of the reason he didn’t speak English with the media until this spring, even though he has been capable of it for at least two years.
That has led to some of the diva talk. Really, though, some of that is a defense mechanism.
“I don’t think any of us know what it’s like to grow up in the spotlight the way that he did,” Daniels said.
But as he talked about going under the knife next week and losing the fourth year in his six-year contract, he spoke of a rehab plan that pitchers before him haven’t.
He isn’t going to revolutionize the physical side, though with as tuned-in as he is with his body and as dialed-in as he is with his conditioning, he could shave some days and weeks off the 14-month timeline.
Darvish, though, talked about how he is going to use downtime to become a better person, a better teammate, more of a professional. It’s as if he wants the challenge of what lies ahead.
“When I did receive that evaluation, at the time, I was like, ‘Darn, I have to get surgery,’ ” Darvish said. “But I didn’t feel anything negative, because nothing positive is going to come out of that. If I’m upset or I’m worried, that’s not going to make my elbow better.”
Whatever sense of self-pity he felt in the days after the initial diagnosis — and a few teammates sensed some depression from Darvish — he has flushed it from his system before Dr. James Andrews flushes the bad ligament Tuesday in Pensacola, Fla.
Darvish will return to Arizona late Wednesday and be in the clubhouse Thursday to begin his rehab. He wants to be around his teammates as much as possible, and will head back to Arlington with them when camp breaks to continue his rehab.
Darvish has convinced himself that all will be well, even though he can look across the clubhouse to find examples of pitchers who have toiled with their comeback from Tommy John.
It took three orthopedic experts telling him the same thing, that the ligament has been thinned out and can’t be made better without surgery, but Darvish’s thought process was to have as much credible information as possible before yielding to Andrews’ scalpel.
That’s what he does when he starts an off-season workout program or makes adjustments to his diet or chooses to work on a minor aspect of his mechanics.
On Friday, he sounded as confident about the operation as he would pitching against a Double A team.
“I’m very optimistic. I have no worries whatsoever,” Darvish said. “I’m going to take this time to learn a lot. I feel like this is something during this time that there is a lot I can do to make myself better. Knowing that this is going to make me better and that the rehab is going to make me better, I feel nothing but positiveness.”
The process of getting there wasn’t quick or easy, but that’s Darvish. It’s time to understand that.
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760