Wada finds words to describe new approach
Cubs lefty on the attack while holding Indians to just four hits
CLEVELAND -- He might not know what it means, but Cubs lefty Tsuyoshi Wada has a new favorite word.
After two tough, abbreviated outings, his manager Joe Maddon implored him to use his fastball more. Attack hitters. Pitch more aggressively. In Wednesday night's 17-0 rout against the Indians, Wada hurled seven innings. He struck out six, walked two and allowed four hits.
After the game, Wada stood confidently in front of his locker, a translator by his side. A reporter opened with a standard question, but in this instance, the question did not matter. Wada eschewed the translator. He felt compelled to issue a statement himself.
"I am badass."
Wada admitted, through the translator, that he didn't actually know what the word meant, but that Maddon told him to say it. Each time he said it -- four in total throughout the interview -- it generated heavy laughter from the group of reporters. He didn't know what it meant, but "obviously it is a good thing to say."
What he did know was that to pitch like one, it meant pitching aggressively and using his fastball. Prior to Wednesday, Wada had used his fastball 60 percent of the time this season. On Wednesday, 81 of his 107 pitches (75 percent) were heaters and 52 of them went for strikes.
After falling behind to each of the first six batters he faced, Wada made an adjustment, and began pitching like his new favorite word. From that point on, he used the fastball more and got a first-pitch strike on 13 of the remaining 19 batters he faced, holding the Indians at bay while his offense ran up the score.
"I was talking to Joe after the last outing and he told me I wasn't aggressive enough," Wada said. "I wasn't using the fastball enough. So today I focused on using the fastball and with our hitters' help, it was a big lead, but I was thinking about it being a 0-0 score."
After totaling just 6 2/3 innings in his previous two starts combined and allowing eight earned runs in the process, Wada knew he had to buckle down and have a start like the one he had to ensure his spot in the rotation would be safe moving forward. And although he knows that one good outing isn't all it will take, it's a start, and now that Wada has a new favorite word, he wants to be able to say it again in the future.
"Hopefully this is a step-by-step thing," Wada said. "Every outing should be better each time. And then hopefully I will be able to say badass again."