For a moment Wednesday morning at Petco Park, Chicago Cubs right fielder Seiya Suzuki gave a glimpse of how he might have looked wearing a different major-league jersey.
Suzuki met San Diego Padres and former Cubs pitcher Yu Darvish behind the plate to exchange jerseys, both signing theirs for the keepsake. At one point, Suzuki held up Darvish’s white pinstriped jersey against him — a visual of an alternate outcome had Suzuki chosen to sign with the Padres over the Cubs.
Wednesday’s pregame jersey exchange before the Cubs’ 7-5 win — they took two of three for their first series victory since the opening weekend of the season — followed an on-field chat between the Japanese stars during batting practice.
The sunny, mid-60s weather gave Darvish a trash-talking opportunity he wasn’t going to pass up. The three-game series was among the best outdoor environment the Cubs have played in the last five weeks, especially compared with the cold, rainy elements they’ve endured too often at Wrigley Field.
Darvish couldn’t help but joke about it with Suzuki.
“Hey, do you like the warm weather here?” Darvish playfully asked him Monday.
Suzuki has not seen Darvish pitch in person, limited to watching his starts on TV. He’s looking forward to when that day comes. Suzuki might not have to wait much longer. The Cubs just missed facing Darvish this week in San Diego. The right-hander makes his next start Friday in Atlanta following the Padres’ off day Thursday.
If the Padres don’t change the rotation order and he remains on a five-day schedule, Darvish should face the Cubs at Wrigley Field during a four-game series June 13-16.
“I want to make sure I could get a hit off him,” Suzuki said, smiling, through interpreter Toy Matsushita. “Because at this moment, he’s going to get me out.”
Darvish told Suzuki before Monday’s series opener that he would like to play on the same team together if there someday is a chance for that to happen. He could have pushed harder for Suzuki to sign with the Padres, but Darvish helped lead the right fielder to Chicago. Darvish spoke positively of his three seasons (2018-20) with the Cubs when the two met March 11 in San Diego before Darvish left to report to spring training in Arizona.
After Suzuki signed a five-year, $85 million contract with the Cubs in March, Joel Wolfe of Wasserman, who represents both players, recalled Darvish’s message to Suzuki centered on wanting the best for him, even if that meant they wouldn’t be teammates.
Suzuki did not start for a second consecutive game because of right ankle soreness suffered in Monday’s game. Although they didn’t face each other during the three-game series at Petco Park, Suzuki clearly got a kick out of sharing a major-league field with Darvish.
“He’s a good influence on me, and I feel that he’s like a superstar — just the fact that he knows me is something that I’m very honored for,” Suzuki said. “At this point, it’s a learning process for me. So I want to experience it and then learn it from my own mindset. But if there is something that concerns me or that I want to ask Yu, then I would ask him.”