C.J. Wilson ready for boos in showdown with Yu Darvish

5 Comments

C.J. Wilson didn’t leave the Texas Rangers on the best of terms last winter.

The then-free agent left-hander was perturbed about the lack of interest from the Rangers, left to sign with their AL West rival Los Angeles Angels, then watched his former team dump $107 million on highly-touted Japanese right-hander Yu Darvish.

Then Wilson stoked the fire by getting into a Twitter tiff with former teammate Mike Napoli during spring training. In response to Napoli saying he wanted to hit a home run off Wilson, the pitcher tweeted Napoli’s phone number to his 100,000-plus followers.

So naturally, it will be Wilson and Darvish on the mound tonight when the Rangers and Angels face each other in Arlington for the first time this season. Talk about a juicy matchup. It would be tough to plan it any better.

Of course Wilson is doing his best to downplay the matchup, stressing to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times that he’s not facing Darvish, he’s facing the Rangers lineup, and “it’s not emotional for me – it’s baseball, it’s a sport, it’s my job.”

He’s also smart enough to realize he’s probably not going to receive a pleasant welcome from the Rangers faithful.

“We’ll be playing in front of a huge crowd in a stadium that’s relatively hostile to our team, and I’m sure it will be fairly hostile to me,” Wilson said. “I think a lot of people will boo me. Hey, some of them booed me while I was there when I was a reliever.”

As for Napoli, he’s also taking a low-key, off-field-stuff-doesn’t-matter approach, with one small exception: “But I will try to hit a home run off him.”

Should be fun.

You can follow Bob on Twitter here, or if Facebook is your thing, be his friend here.

Ken Giles: ‘I’m actually enjoying the game more than I did for my entire tenure in Houston’

Brian Davidson/Getty Images
2 Comments

Blue Jays closer Ken Giles hasn’t exactly turned things around since joining the Blue Jays on July 31, when the club sent embattled closer Roberto Osuna to the Astros. Giles posted a 4.99 ERA in 30 2/3 innings with the Astros, then put up a slightly less miserable 4.58 ERA in 17 2/3 innings with the Jays. Still, he’s much happier with the Jays than he was with the Astros, even after winning the World Series with them last year. He said to Rosie DiManno of the Toronto Star, “I’m actually enjoying the game more than I did for my entire tenure in Houston. It’s kind of weird to say that because I won a World Series with that team. But it’s like, I just felt trapped there. I didn’t feel like myself there. Overall, I felt out of place.”

Giles also said “the communication was lost” with the Astros and it was something that came easy with the Jays. He said, “When I came here, they stayed patient with me. I said hey, I want to work on this thing till I’m comfortable. All right. OK, I’m comfortable, let’s move on to this next thing. Pitching, you can’t just try to fix everything at once. For me, I had to take baby steps to get my groove back. The Jays allowed me to do that. Yeah, the team was out of contention, but it doesn’t matter. It’s still my career. I still have to prove myself. Them being so patient with me, understanding what I want to do, was very, very big.”

Giles, 28, has two more years of arbitration eligibility remaining. He has shown promise despite his overall mediocre numbers. In non-save situations this season (with both the Astros and Jays), he has a 9.12 ERA. But in save situations, his ERA is a pristine 0.38. Giles could be a closer the Jays find themselves leaning on as they attempt to get back into competitive shape. Since it sounds like Giles is quite enamored with Toronto and with the Blue Jays, a discussion about a contract extension certainly could be had.