The coronavirus pandemic has caused a long delay to the start of the 2020 Major League Baseball season, but it also has allowed Yu Darvish of the Chicago Cubs to continue to learn English for his media interviews.
Darvish was born in Japan and has pitched for the Rangers, Dodgers, and Cubs since 2012.
Despite being a veteran big league pitcher, Darvish recently did something at the ballpark for the very first time: he gave his first mass media interview in English.
Darvish had given interviews in Japanese throughout his baseball career, but never before solely in English, and he knew that it was time to put his English language lessons to good use.
“I want to speak better English,” Darvish told ESPN. “I understand what you guys [in the media] are asking, but when I get nervous – like now – my English gets stuck a little.”
“Dealing with reporters and the public in English takes away a level of protection,” Cubs president Theo Epstein observed. “It’s an attempt to make a more genuine connection…I think not using an interpreter is a brave thing to do.”
“He takes a lot of pride in his ability to speak English,” Epstein added. “When we met with him [during free agency], it was all in English.”
“The most important thing is you guys [in the media] understand what I’m saying because pitching can be hard to explain sometimes,” Darvish told the assembled journalists that cover the Cubs. “I’ll have to take my time [explaining].”
“[Little] by little I’ve been more comfortable,” Darvish concluded.