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Tag:Yu Darvish
Posted on: March 7, 2012 7:06 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2012 7:17 pm
 

Yu the man in Rangers debut

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Quick glimpse, small sample. Two innings, first impression:

Yu Darvish's Japanese legacy and World Baseball Classic dominance looked for one day Wednesday like they will translate beautifully into the major leagues.

Or, if you prefer, you could take it beyond one spring outing.

"They're going back to the postseason," Padres second baseman Orlando Hudson said of a Rangers team with Darvish in their rotation. "That's a no-brainer."

Darvish surrendered two hits -- doubles to Hudson and Will Venable -- no runs and whiffed three Padres in Texas' 6-3 Cactus League win on a cold, windy Arizona afternoon.

He rose to the occasion when needed, handcuffing the Padres to 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position. He backed off when the situation suggested, getting Carlos Quentin to swing out of his spikes with a 79 m.p.h. curve to end the first.

He threw first-pitch strikes to seven of eight batters faced, including each of the first six major league hitters he saw. He got nine swing-and-misses, and threw 26 strikes and just 10 balls.

He does not dawdle like Daisuke Matsuzaka, and he does not nibble like C.J. Wilson. He comes right at hitters, and he's got the stuff to do it.

"He's got some deception and he's got some velocity," Texas' Michael Young said. "If he commands the heater, he's going to get outs."

Scouts said he threw six different pitches: Two variations of his fastball, two types of curveballs, a slider and a change-up. Texas catcher Yorvit Torrealba says he throws seven pitches. In a game in which everything plays off of the fastball and changing speeds, though, who really can count?

"At one point, I was thinking about taking my glove off and using two hands" to flash signals while calling pitches, Torrealba joked.

With a fastball that hit 95 and an even slower curve than the one Quentin saw, clocked at 67 m.p.h. to Will Venable, Darvish possesses an exceptional ability to keep hitters off-balance. His fastball ranged from 92 to 95 m.p.h.

Though Hudson yanked a double between Young and second baseman Ian Kinsler in the first, it was Venable's booming double in the second that was the attention-getter. Venable blasted a 2 and 2 fastball some 420 feet off of the batter's eye in dead center.

Not only was it the hardest-hit ball against Darvish, the moment also later provided some pretty good insight into just how stubborn, determined and proud Darvish is.

"The dry air in Arizona and the wind blowing out carried the ball pretty far," Darvish said through an interpreter. "To me, it didn't seem that it was hit very squarely."

To which, a couple of Padres called bull. Mark Kotsay chortled that during his 16 years in the majors, he hasn't seen a ball blasted 400-and-some feet high off of a "50-foot wall" that wasn't exactly, um, smoked.

"Maybe his perception of reality isn't as right on as ... I don't know," Venable said. "No comment."

Translation: Yes, Venable thought, he not only squared that fastball up, he CRUSHED it.

So file that one away. If Darvish is as dismissive of other hitters who take a bite out of him as he was of Venable, well, some awfully entertaining rivalries are about to be born. Or, a bit of a humbling process is about to begin.

Mostly, Darvish said, he was happy to get his first Cactus League start out of the way. He said his teammates teased him a little about being nervous before the game, and "I told them, no, I'm not." He was very happy with the way his secondary pitches were working, though he acknowledged that throwing into the teeth of a strong wind aids the movement of his pitches.

He opened some eyes with two impressive defensive plays, showing some quickness while covering first base on one play and leaping high to grab a high chopper up the middle. He threw home, and Torrealba tagged the runner coming in from third.

Defense-loving Texas manager Ron Washington said those plays were the most impressive things he saw the 6-5 Darvish do.

"That's a big Asian dude," Hudson said. "What's that guy who played basketball for the Rockets? Yao Ming? I looked at him and thought, that dude is big. ...

"Watching him on TV I thought, he's big. Then when I saw him, I thought he's not as big as I thought. Then I got to the plate and I thought, damn."

Hudson had no qualms about admitting his excitement to face Darvish. He said he even had trouble sleeping Tuesday night.

Interestingly, the Rangers picked up on Hudson's eagerness.

"I thought Hudson grinded out his at-bat," pitching coach Mike Maddux said of Hudson's first-inning double. "It looked like one of those emotional at-bats where it's like, 'I'm going to show this guy.'"

Bingo.

One other impression: Darvish worked both innings entirely from the stretch, not the wind-up. Even with nobody on base. He works both ways randomly, he said.

Maddux said he was given two DVDs, one from a game last July in which Darvish worked from the stretch, another from a game last October in which he worked entirely from the windup.

"The biggest pitches you make come from the stretch," Maddux said. "If you want to hone that craft, by all means, I'm all for it."

Hone it Darvish did, as his homeland studied through a microscope. Four different networks beamed Darvish's two innings back to Japan live, according to Rangers' PR guru John Blake. ESPN News showed the first four hitters live. Some 150 media members packed the press box in what had to be some sort of Cactus League record.

Yeah, you could see why Darvish and the Rangers were just as happy to get this one behind them.

As the Padres' Hudson said, that's a whole lot on the back of a 25-year-old who is moving to a new country to change jobs, no matter how talented he is. First time you surrender a home run, everyone wants to know what happened. First time you get knocked out of the box after three innings, everyone demands explanations.

Of course, that all comes with $111.7 million -- the $60 mil the Rangers are paying Darvish, and the $51.7 mil posting fee.

"Ichiro kind of set the bar high getting 900 hits a year," Hudson said. "[Darvish] has got to go win a Cy Young."



Posted on: February 20, 2012 5:33 pm
 

When Pujols met Yu Darvish

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Truth be told, the biggest news on Albert Pujols' first day as an Angel on Monday probably was something that actually occurred last Thursday, when he went mano y mano with Japanese sensation Yu Darvish.

Texas signed the Japanese sensation not long after the Angels signed Pujols, escalating the AL West arms race.

Pujols said the two met last Thursday while he was working out in Los Angeles.

"He walked in and introduced himself," Pujols said. "He's a really nice guy, really humble.

"He said he's looking forward to the battle, working in the same division. It's going to be fun."

The Angels and Rangers meet for the first time in 2012 on Friday, May 11, in Arlington.

Sunblock Day? Yep. Getting warmer. In the 40s at 7 am, but high 60s and warm sun by late morning.

Likes: Pujols admitting Monday he already received his first fine as an Angel on his first day in camp. "My phone rang in the clubhouse," he said, chuckling. ... Talking late Hall of Famer Gary Carter with Felipe Alou the other day. Alou managed Carter in Montreal, and the two lived about 20 minutes apart in the Palm Beach Gardens area of Florida. "He was the kind of guy who brought light into a room when he walked in," Alou said. Great description. ... Alou also was chuckling reminiscing about Carter's rookie year, when the Expos still had Barry Foote catching and sometimes played Carter in the outfield. "Gary about killed himself running into a wall one time," Alou said. "That was the last time he played outfield. Barry Foote was good, but he was not a Hall of Famer." ... The thin-crust pizza at Oregano's. Went sausage and mushroom the other night. Abstolutely delicious. Plus, cool T-shirts the wait staff was wearing: "Legalize Marinara" read their backs. ... Loved The Help. Definitely worth seeing, if you haven't. ... Indestructible Machine, fantastic disc from Lydia Loveless.

Dislikes: Netflixed The Tree of Life and either I'm not smart enough (very possible), or this is one miserable movie. Oh ... my ... Lord.

Rock 'n' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"I hear that there's a party tonight
"I probably won't go, but thanks for the invite
"'Cause I'd rather stay home and drink gallons of wine
"And that must be why nobody stops by"

-- More Like Them, Lydia Loveless


Posted on: January 18, 2012 5:35 pm
 

Yu Darvish, Texas Ranger

That the Rangers got the Yu Darvish deal done is no surprise.

Neither is it a surprise that the talks pretty much extended all the way to Tuesday's 5 p.m. EDT deadline.

Now ... will it be a surprise if Darvish immediately becomes the Rangers' ace?

Hmmm. ...

The airspace from Japan to the major leagues has been turbulent for pitchers, but so many scouts say Darvish is no Daisuke Matsuzaka or Hideki Irabu (or Kei Igawa). Across the board, that's a good thing for Texas.

Most importantly, the Rangers themselves are betting that there will be no surprises, that Darvish is ace material. They got exactly what they wanted in essentially exchanging Darvish for C.J. Wilson, and they got exactly what they wanted in getting it done with a six-year deal instead of a five. (Thus keeping him out of the free agent market for an extra year).

Texas' total commitment is $111 million, given the $60 million plus the $51 million posting price, and who knows, maybe there even will be money left over for Prince Fielder. The Rangers steadfastly have downplayed that possibility, but they do have the money and the potential for a monster winter remains.

A good day overall for the Rangers, who have watched AL West rival Los Angeles sign Albert Pujols and Wilson this winter while waiting patiently to put their own plans in motion.

But despite his credentials in Japan, Darvish still comes to Texas as less of a proven commodity than, say, Cliff Lee when the Rangers acquired him at midseason in 2010. Darvish must prove that he can adjust to a longer schedule, pitching every five days, a different culture, a different baseball, the Texas heat and living away from his family. Among other things.

Wilson helped pitch the Rangers to consecutive World Series in 2010 and 2011. He worked 223 1/3 innings last year and 204 innings two summers ago. He made 77 starts over those two seasons and won 31 decisions. He was not nails in the postseason, however, and he had run his course.

There was absolutely no way the Rangers were going to re-sign him, certainly not at anything remotely close to the $77.5 million he got over five years from the Angels.

They did not like the prospect of their return on that investment, and they have not liked how the past two seasons have turned out despite the World Series appearances.

"We've had some success the last two years, but we haven't been able to close it out," general manager Jon Daniels said last month on the night it was revealed that the Rangers won the right to negotiate exclusively with Darvish. "That's our goal. Put the best possible club out there and win a championship."

That goal only gets harder, never easier, as players age and opponents adjust. The Angels have stolen all the headlines this winter and there is no question -- on paper -- they are better post-Pujols.

Baseball men who have watched Darvish pitch, both in Japan and on video, swear that he is by far the best pitcher to come out of Japan. Best stuff, strongest, most developed, most confident.

They Rangers right now have $111 million saying that's right.

As for the rest, well, across the AL West, the Angels are feeling pretty, pretty good about themselves right now. But with Darvish -- and with Fielder still free -- it would be a colossal mistake to curb your enthusiasm where the Rangers are concerned.

Posted on: December 8, 2011 2:46 am
 

Darvish brings to mind Daisuke memories

DALLAS -- High-profile Japanese right-hander Yu Darvish wrote on his blog that he will be posted on Thursday and, thus, formally become available to major league clubs as a free agent.

As such, let's remember two words.

Daisuke Matsuzaka.

A handful of recent Japanese pitchers have disappointed in the majors. While Hideo Nomo had some very good moments, Hideki Irabu, Kei Igawa and Matsuzaka all did not live up to their billing.

Matsuzaka landed with the Boston Red Sox in 2007 following an incredibly high profile chase in which the Red Sox paid a $51 million posting price and $52 million in salary.

He went 15-12 in his first season and helped fuel a Red Sox World Series win, then went 18-3 in 2008.

He's done very little in the ensuing three seasons, combining to win just 16 games before landing on the disabled list last summer and undergoing Tommy John ligament replacement surgery in June.

"He was in Florida, doing well, and we fully expect that within the time frame of the surgery, within a year, he'd be back and ready sometime this summer," Scott Boras, Matsuzaka's agent, said.

Boras said the fit with new Boston manager Bobby Valentine should be comfortable. Valentine managed seven seasons in Japan since he last managed in the major leagues.

"Daisuke knows a great deal about Bobby Valentine, he's obviously very well respected," Boras said. "Certainly, Daisuke has a familiarity with him. I think the two have a lot in common. And I'm sure Bobby will take Daisuke to his favorite sushi restaurant, rather than vice-versa."
 
 
 
 
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