And if Darvish’s first spring training outing is any indication, the nearly $112 million required to bring him stateside was a worthwhile investment.
The 25-year-old right-hander showed seven different pitches in a pair of scoreless innings against the Padres on Wednesday, allowing two hits, striking out three and made a couple impressive plays with his glove to boot.
It was exactly the type of outing the Rangers wanted to see from a guy they hope will be their ace for years to come.
Catcher Yorvit Torrealba called fastballs, curveballs, sliders, cutters, changeups and splitters — all of which Darvish threw over the plate. Of his 36 pitches, 26 were strikes.
“I’ve thrown in so many games, you know?” Darvish said through an interpreter when asked about possible nerves. “I was really looking forward to pitching today.”
The 6-foot-5 Darvish also flashed some leather when he reached high to snag a James Darnell high hopper then threw to Torrealba who tagged out Will Venable as he tried to score from third on the play.
“Yeah, he’s really tall,” first baseman Michael Young said. “I don’t think we have many guys who can make that play. So it’s nice to have a guy who’s really big and athletic and knows how to field his position really well. ... Another big plus.”
Over the past seven seasons in Japan, Darvish established himself as the Pacific League’s most dominant pitcher, compiling a 93-38 record and 1.99 ERA in 167 games. The Rangers gave up $51.7 million just to open negotiations with Darvish’s team and then signed the two-time Pacific League MVP to a six-year, $56 million deal. Needless to say, the expectations for Darvish are sky high.
“Every start, eyes on him,” Padres second baseman Orlando Hudson said after the game. “You give up one home run, it’s going to be like, ‘What’s going on?’ The first time he goes three innings, it’ll be like, ‘What happened?’ That’s a lot of pressure. I can’t say he’s going to live up to it. Does he have the potential to live up to it? Oh yeah, definitely. We saw some of that today, but he’s got a lot to deal with.”
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Box score: Rangers 6, Padres 2