Rangers' Darvish shines in debut with media

Posted Friday, Jan. 20, 2012  comments  Print Reprints

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ARLINGTON -- The greatest challenge of Yu Darvish's career awaits him in April, when he will embark on his first major-league season after dominating for most of the past seven years in Japan.

If he can pitch the way he handled the media in his first news conference as a member of the Texas Rangers, he well might exceed the heap of expectations that have quickly been thrust upon him.

Darvish was introduced Friday night as the Rangers' newest starting pitcher before an estimated 200 media members, many of them from Japan, and on multiple live telecasts.

The 6-foot-5 right-hander sat through 45 minutes of questions and two jersey presentations at Rangers Ballpark, and later an on-field photo opportunity, seemingly without ever missing a beat.

He understands that his job won't be easy, but he said that he is ready to take on the major leagues and embrace the American and Texas cultures.

"I have no worries," he said. "What I'm looking forward to is a different environment, a different league, different hitters. It's more fun looking forward to that. I'm full of excitement."

Fans stood along Randol Mill Road outside the Hall of Fame, where the super-sized news conference was held, and provided an indication of their excitement but also their level of expectation for Darvish.

Members of the Japanese media asked their American colleagues about their expectations for Darvish, who signed a six-year, $60 million contract Wednesday.

There is no shortage of expectations with Darvish, and he will hounded by lofty hopes from his first bullpen session during spring training until the end of his contract.

But his expectations seemed to be reasonable.

"To do the best I can do and make my starts and do the best for the team," Darvish said. "Regarding off-the-field things and pressure, it's something to try to not be too tight about. I'll have an open mind and be relaxed.

"I don't plan on making any drastic changes. I'll go through my training and my preparations that I've always done. I think that's what I should do. I plan on doing that from the start."

Darvish sat in the middle of a five-man dais, next to manager Ron Washington and interpreter Joe Furukawa.

Darvish, 25, provided thoughtful and thorough answers, and also showed a sharp wit with several questions.

When asked about facing a throng of media, which he has done several times throughout his career in Japan, he gave a lengthy answer where others might have scoffed.

"In Japan, I'm from a place called Osaka," he said. "Ever since I was a child, baseball was my life. Every since then, I've received a lot of attention. I'm kind of used to it. It comes with my job."

Darvish also said that he hasn't tried Texas barbecue but is looking forward to tasting it; understands English and will attempt to learn to speak it better than his current level; and during a visit here a few weeks ago asked general manager Jon Daniels if he could move the right-field walls back some.

But his two best answers were to completely different questions.

On the shirt he wore on his flight from Japan that appeared to have a marijuana leaf on it, but was really the Japanese maple leaf: "Anything that's a T-shirt with English words on it, we just tend to wear it. We don't actually know what it means, until my father just told me what it was. Until then, I really didn't have any clue on that."

On how he would have fared in Game 6 of the World Series when the Rangers needed one last strike: "If it was last year, I think I would have given up a home run and lost the game. This year, I'll make sure that won't happen."

Darvish is ready to take on major league baseball.

He had good stuff and earned a complete-game victory Friday in his introductory news conference.

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @JeffWilson_FWST

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