Maddon Fires Back At A-Rod Over Darvish Criticism

"I was really shocked by the whole diatribe," Joe Maddon says.

Bernstein & McKnight Show
July 31, 2018 - 12:15 pm
Cubs manager Joe Maddon

Jake Roth/USA Today Sports

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(670 The Score) Two days after ESPN broadcaster Alex Rodriguez questioned the heart and commitment of Cubs right-hander Yu Darvish as he deals with an arm injury and indicated that Darvish is a distraction in the team's clubhouse, manager Joe Maddon blasted Rodriguez for his comments.

Rodriguez made the comments during a Cubs-Cardinals national broadcast Sunday night. After his team's win then, Maddon hadn't heard or read the comments in full yet but did staunchly defend Darvish and the team's clubhouse culture. With more time to absorb the context and criticism from Rodriguez, Maddon fired back in full. 

"I was really shocked by the whole diatribe, in a sense a soliloquy," Maddon said on the Bernstein & McKnight Show on 670 The Score on Tuesday afternoon. "It really came off to me as plastic and probably rehearsed in advance. It was definitely a contrived situation. That part of it, I didn't really like either. Beyond the substance, it was definitely not extemporaneous. And that really is a concern too. Because if you walk into our locker trying to substantiate something, you've already made up your mind to do that. That's kind of bothersome. These (national broadcasters), they see us two or three times here. They're not in the presence of all of our guys. They really have no business making those kinds of comments. So having said all that, for me, it's not about empowering Alex. I do not want to do that whatsoever.

"Because I think that's what he's looking for -- is empowerment. And the other part is from our perspective, nobody contaminates our space. You as an individual should not permit it, we as a group are not going to permit it. We have a very tightly knit group. These guys are wonderful. They interest so well together, not only among themselves but also coaches, front office, etc. It's a very tightly knit group. So when you attempt to come into our sanctum and say or make those kind of comments in a predetermined negative way, I don't take kindly to that."

Maddon wasn't done.

"Among the group, we've talked about it a little bit," Maddon said. "We wanted to reassure Yu that none of that is true. Yu needs to know that, coming into the situation he has and not being able to perform based on an injury. It's very difficult. It's very difficult to be that guy when you're walking around and you got something wrong and you know you want to be out there. You know you can help, and it's tough. It's very tough mentally on that person. So my desire is this goes away today.

"What I just said to you illustrates exactly how I feel about this. It's one of those situations that a guy like him (Rodriguez) has to be careful, because now he can really sully his reputation in other clubhouses based on this irresponsible moment."

Darvish has been out since May 20 with a right elbow impingement and inflammation. He's 1-3 with a 4.95 ERA in eight starts. He may ample progress toward a return with a minor league rehab in late June but then suffered a setback. He's expected to throw another bullpen this week, and the Cubs hope he can return in early September in time to find his rhythm for the postseason.

Rodriguez's comments also drew a stern rebuke from Darvish's agent, Joel Wolfe of Wasserman, on Monday. Wolfe called the comments "classless" in an interview with Patrick Mooney of the Athletic Chicago.

Rodriguez's criticism of Darvish came in the eighth inning of the Cubs-Cardinals game Sunday.

"It’s been a very sobering year with the debacle of the start of Yu Darvish, who’s been devastating," Rodriguez said. "I mean, a guy to start a six-year contract with three of the worst months you could ever see. I know he threw a 10-pitch bullpen, then a 16-pitch bullpen, and then he said his arm was hurting. It’s gotten so bad around – now they won’t say this publicly – but it’s gotten so bad that they let him basically police and take control of his own rehab, which is scary, because they don’t want to create anything that he can kind of push back against.

"So he’ll let the team know when he’s ready, which, let me just tell you what that means to a clubhouse. You lose respect quickly. And my concern for him – because he’s a great young talent – is it may take two or three or four years and you may never get that back. The other side of that is Chatwood, Tyler, who’s actually struggled, but has gone out there, he’s posted."

Rodriguez later turned his attention to play-by-play man Matt Vasgerian, going on with his rant about Darvish.

"Matt, the problem is, and I’m pretty passionate about this,” Rodriguez said. "When you have 25 players coming to the stadium, you’re there to do one thing and that’s win a ballgame. You want all the energy, all the focus, all the analytics, all the stretching: What are we going to do today to win a ballgame?

"And when you have a guy that signs an enormous contract and he’s sitting down – and you walk in the training room, and he’s got two trainers working on him, you go into the video room and you have a guy looking at video – he should be in Arizona somewhere getting treated. But don’t get in the way of 25 players going after one mission – to win a ballgame."