If you read social media, Jack Flaherty is biding his time for free agency with disdain in his heart for the Cardinals and will be heading to Los Angeles. Could this be fans being completely wrong about Flaherty?
Since Jack Flaherty arrived with the Cardinals, he's been seen as a passionate young man with a fantastic arm. A glance at social media anytime Flaherty has pitched or garnered attention would suggest Flaherty is an unhappy, emotional, social justice warrior who should keep quiet and pitch.
Flaherty spoke with the media at the Winter Warm-up in St. Louis on Monday. Much of what he had to say would lead one to believe all of the bad things that have been said about Flaherty are completely wrong.
Flaherty does wear his emotions on his sleeve, and it is something he has worked on. He has the motto, "Don't Think," which reminds you not to overthink things and let them take you out of your moment. The motto has helped him while on the mound but has led others to believe he is unhappy with the Cardinals, the city of St. Louis, and a mountain of other things.
Listening to Flaherty get emotional in talking about what Adam Wainwright has meant to him was incredible. It solidifies what a great person Wainwright is and shows that Flaherty has opened himself up to his teammate and gotten a lot out of it. What could be seen as aloof could be him hiding the emotions from taking over him.
It was refreshing to hear Flaherty's story of Wainwright talking to him the night his friend Tyler Skaggs, who pitched for the Los Angeles Angels, had passed away in a Dallas hotel room. Skaggs's cause of death was asphyxia after an accidental drug overdose. It's good to see Flaherty showing those emotions and knowing he's worked with many, including Wainwright and Yadier Molina, about keeping his emotions in check and doing things the right way,
It's a clear indication that people have the wrong idea about Flaherty. Those individuals are more upset that his political and social views, which he hasn't expressed on social media in some time, do not match theirs and want him to be quiet about it, not show emotion and pitch until he leaves for a team on the west coast. Well, that's not how Flaherty works.
Flaherty showing the emotion he did Monday is pretty great. It took away any assumption one could have had about him. He showed he is more than just a great pitcher. He is human. That's all he's been showing anyone when so-called fans are upset with him.
Flaherty did say he hopes to do well this season and help the club win a World Series Championship. More than anything, after three seasons of being on the bench with injury while the Cardinals are in the playoffs, he is ready to compete with the Cardinals.
According to MLB.com's John Denton, "A best-case scenario for the Cardinals would be Flaherty getting the ball on Opening Day. Flaherty said Wainwright’s impending retirement is a driving force behind his desire to have a strong season. He wants the Cards to win big for Waino."
Flaherty said he wanted to take care of business this season with a strong comeback. He wants to help Wainwright go out on top. And what happens from there is anyone's guess. He will be a free agent after this season.
Cardinals baseball operations president John Mozeliak said his confidence in Flaherty "is at an all-time high. He’s had a good offseason. His preparation has been very strategic, and he’s in a good spot. I think he understands the importance of this year.”
Cardinals new catcher Willson Contreras also expressed excitement in working with Flaherty, hopefully starting soon at the team's spring training facility in Jupiter, Fl.. “Facing Flaherty in 2019, he was something special. I told [Mozeliak], ‘If we get this guy healthy, everything will be fine.’ When he’s at his best, he’s almost unhittable.”
Instead of going into this season with doom and dread for what comes with Flaherty, it may be best to follow the pitcher's motto. Don't Think. Just let him pitch. Don't assume the worst in him. Know that he's an emotional young man trying his best. Know that he does want the best for the team and his teammates. But, as Flaherty put it, what happens next is anyone's guess. Maybe he will come back to the Cardinals, maybe not. But he's going to do his best for the Cardinals this season.
On that, Flaherty was clear.