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Blog Entry

Yu the man in Rangers debut

Posted on: March 7, 2012 7:06 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2012 7:17 pm
 
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."



Comments

Since: Oct 24, 2011
Posted on: March 9, 2012 10:27 pm
 

Yu the man in Rangers debut

qb17, you sir are a straight up moron! i don't know if you heard, but the rangers have one of the best farm systems in baseball. its been that way for a few years. so they bought a couple of players?? so what???!!!!! uugh some people.



Since: Jun 13, 2007
Posted on: March 9, 2012 3:41 pm
 

Yu the man in Rangers debut

What I really want to see from Yu is this famed "shuuto" pitch.



Since: Mar 22, 2011
Posted on: March 9, 2012 10:47 am
 

Yu the man in Rangers debut

I realize it's way too early to annoint this guy to Cooperstown but lets look at a few things:

dude is 6'5" and 220 pounds - when is the last time you saw a Japanese pitcher that size?

Darvish throws in the 92-97 range - with nasty movement.  and changes speeds like Greg Maddux.

Yu is like the Brad Pitt of Japan - everyone rides his jock - and he's cocky.  You absolutely have to be cocky to be an ace.  And that's what he is.  Bank on it.

Time will tell, but he has all the makings to be a solid top of the rotation guy.

Go Rangers!





Since: Sep 11, 2006
Posted on: March 9, 2012 9:13 am
 

Yu the man in Rangers debut

MrMcBenz, weed doesnt give you these illusions...don't blame a plant for people's foolishness. 



Since: Jan 18, 2012
Posted on: March 9, 2012 7:34 am
 

Yu the man in Rangers debut


Said

First, as a Rangers' fan I thought the article lived up to what it was intended to be--a first impression. A lot of the comments I read seemed to believe that the article placed Yu one step away from the Cy Young Award. I think that is a vast overstatement of what was said. Of course, time will tell whether Darvish is going to be a dominant pitcher, a total disappointment, or something in between. I appreciated the details about the number of pitches in his arsenal, the defensive plays, and Ron Washinton's comments. I don't expect that Yarvish is going to intimidate Albert Pujols--who does? However, it's always exciting to have a new pitcher that is able to energize the fans and capture the attention of the media (think Stephen Strasburg). Can't wait for the season to begin.



Got to agree with you.  Just got to say that you guys are lucky.  If the Boss still was alive and in control Darvish would be pitching for my team the Yankees and the rest of the league would be eating their hearts out.


We would still have Montero and reporters would be writing that we are watching the next Mickey Mantle.    &nbs
p;  
  

   



Since: Aug 31, 2009
Posted on: March 8, 2012 10:39 pm
 

Yu the man in Rangers debut

Big Sh*ttin deal! I could throw a no hitter against the padres! This guy would not last a full inning against the Tigers lineup!



Since: Oct 31, 2011
Posted on: March 8, 2012 9:04 pm
 

Yu the man in Rangers debut

First, as a Rangers' fan I thought the article lived up to what it was intended to be--a first impression. A lot of the comments I read seemed to believe that the article placed Yu one step away from the Cy Young Award. I think that is a vast overstatement of what was said. Of course, time will tell whether Darvish is going to be a dominant pitcher, a total disappointment, or something in between. I appreciated the details about the number of pitches in his arsenal, the defensive plays, and Ron Washinton's comments. I don't expect that Yarvish is going to intimidate Albert Pujols--who does? However, it's always exciting to have a new pitcher that is able to energize the fans and capture the attention of the media (think Stephen Strasburg). Can't wait for the season to begin.



Since: Sep 20, 2006
Posted on: March 8, 2012 6:33 pm
 

Yu the man in Rangers debut

Will Venableand Orlando Hudson may be average MLB hitters...maybe a little less than average, I'd say.

In Japan, there is approximately 1 hitter per team, with average MLB talent. Every decade or so, there is one with substantially better than average MLB talent.  THAT is why Darvish's stats look like he's been facing Little Leaguers...he has. 

Darvish may very well be a good MLB pitcher, but he hasn't faced anything like the hitters in MLB on a consistent basis... There is no real scouting report on Darvish yet.

He will have plenty to adjust to, and hitters will hit him better after he's been around a month or two. It's all about how he adjusts.     



Since: Dec 27, 2006
Posted on: March 8, 2012 5:09 pm
 

Yu the man in Rangers debut

The Rangers have two pennants. PDB.



Since: Oct 28, 2011
Posted on: March 8, 2012 1:42 pm
 

Yu the man in Rangers debut

Agree with most of the comments here. The media is over hyped again. My understanding is that Venable crushed the ball against him. Rangers still trying to buy their fist pennant. Hope the A's or Mariners win the dvision and send the big spenders to the showers.


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