Yu Darvish makes his major league debut tonight. Not a bad opponent for it either: the Seattle Mariners. I have this feeling the first Darvish-Ichiro matchup is gonna get a little press in Japan. Just a hunch.
Darvish was 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 15 innings in spring training. He’s not unhittable, certainly, as his mistakes seemed to be in the zone on offspeed things — I saw Will Venable absolutely murder a Darvish pitch in Peoria that was still going up when it hit the tall batter’s eye in center field — but anyone with that kind of strikeout mojo is outrageously fun to watch.
Good luck, Mariners.
Tim Tebow isn’t letting go of his major league dreams just yet. The former NFL quarterback is slated to appear with the Mets during spring training this year, extending what initially looked like an ill-fated career choice for at least one more season. Per the club’s official announcement on Friday, he’ll join a group of spring training invitees that includes top-30 prospects like Peter Alonso, P.J. Conlon, Patrick Mazeika and David Thompson.
Tebow, 30, hasn’t taken to professional baseball as gracefully as expected. He batted a cumulative .226/.309/.347 with eight home runs and a .656 OPS in 486 plate appearances for Single-A Columbia and High-A St. Lucie in 2017. While that wasn’t enough to compel the Mets to give the aging outfielder a big league tryout, there’s no denying that Tebow brought substantial benefit to their minor league affiliates — in the form of increased attendance figures and ticket sales, that is.
Even after the Mets were booted from the NL East race last September, they resisted the idea of promoting Tebow for a late-season attendance boost of their own. That’s not to say they’re planning on taking the same approach in 2018; Tebow will undoubtedly get his cup of coffee in the majors at some point, but for now, a Grapefruit League tryout is likely as close as he’ll ever get to playing with the team’s big league roster on an everyday basis.