Japanese star pitcher Yu Darvish stirs frenzy at Rangers camp
Sunrise, AZ, United States (AHN Sports) – Yu Darvish did not talk to the media as he reported for his first day of spring training with the Texas Rangers, but the Japanese pitching star certainly gave one of his new teammates, catcher Luis Martinez , something to talk about.
The Japanese pitching phenom, who was in Los Angeles for more than week, arrived at Surprise Recreation Campus at early Tuesday morning with a three-man entourage with dozens of media from Japan camped out in the parking lot.
About a half hour after his arrival, Darvish proceeded with his workout under heavy security and no cameras. The back fields at the Rangers’ spring training facility were not open to the media for the day.
In his first workout in a Rangers uniform, Darvish, who has had more success in Japan than any other pitcher who has made the transition across the Pacific Ocean, threw 30 pitches to Martinez in a bullpen session.
Martinez, who was acquired by the Rangers in the offseason from San Diego via a trade, was impressed by the right-handed Darvish.
“I was excited and happy to catch him,” Martinez told ESPN.com. “He had a bunch of pitches, great stuff and stayed down in the zone. He threw curve balls, sliders, changeup, splits. He did really well.”
Darvish threw around 75 to 80 percent with figures ranging from 88 to 90 mph, according to Martinez, who indicated that 25-year-old did throw some harder balls at the end of the session.
Darvish also played a game of catch with fellow Rangers pitcher Derek Holland. The two threw off a flat ground to warm up.
Darvish, a two-time MVP during his seven sterling seasons in Japan, may have set high standards for himself on his first workout as he apologized for each of his bad pitches
“That’s the one thing he needs to learn is he doesn’t have to apologize like that,” Holland told MLB.com. “There’s no need for that. You’re not always going to hit your spots.”
Darvish, coming off the best of his seven seasons as a pro in Japan, going 18-6 with a 1.44 ERA, inked a six-year, $56 million contract with the Rangers in January. The Rangers paid $51.7 million to his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, for exclusive negotiating rights.
In the past five years he spent with the Fighters, Darvish posted a 76-28 record with a 1.72 career ERA. He also has averaged 9.5 strikeouts per nine innings.
Apart from his power pitching, Darvish is also regarded for his excellent control as he averaged 1.9 walks per nine innings over the past five years. He also registered a WHIP of 0.890 over the same period.
Darvish is scheduled to meet with the media Thursday afternoon.