Smarter, mature Darvish breezes through Rangers' tuneup at Ballpark

Posted Thursday, Mar. 28, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

Have more to add? News tip? Tell us

Yu Darvish’s full head of short dark hair isn’t the only difference with the Texas Rangers’ Japanese pitching sensation of this spring and last spring.

The most noticeable and significant distinction, he said, is a new level of confidence that comes with being more comfortable than the green rookie with long, dyed locks in a foreign land facing unattainable expectations for a first-year pitcher in the big leagues.

“There is a big difference between last year and this year,” Darvish said. “I feel really relaxed … very comfortable.”

Darvish breezed through four innings, allowing no runs and striking out seven during a 12-1 victory in an international baseball friendly against an outmanned Mexico City Red Devils outfit.

The Rangers will get more of a feel for how the right-hander’s new mental state plays through the ups and downs of a long season when he makes his first regular-season start on Tuesday at Houston.

On Thursday, Darvish threw 52 pitches — 42 for strikes —and allowed only two base runners in 14 hitters faced, including Ben Broussard, who struck out on a split-fingered fastball in the second but reached on a wild pitch that catcher A.J. Pierzynski couldn’t handle.

For the spring, Darvish finished 1-1 with a 1.52 ERA and 22 strikeouts and three walks in 17 2/3 innings. Opposing batters hit .138 off him in five outings.

His performance in the Cactus League, plus Thursday’s game, was a continuation of a strong finish to 2012 when he went 3-0 with a 2.21 ERA in September.

Manager Ron Washington noticed differences, too, seeing a smarter and more mature Darvish this spring, particularly in knowing his limitations with what pitches are working and not working in pregame warmup sessions in the bullpen.

“His command is better than it was at the beginning of the year last year,” Washington said. “I don’t think Yu is doing anything that he hasn’t done before.

“He needed to get used to his surroundings and all the things going on last year. But he’s been through it. Now he’s focused on what he can do every day to help his team.”

Washington also judged his lineup ready. The Rangers pounded Mexico City pitching with a 19-hit attack, including seven extra-base hits.

Nelson Cruz had a three-run home run and Ian Kinsler and David Murphy each had two-run shots. Mitch Moreland hit his fifth homer this spring, a solo blast for the home team in an exhibition that shook the dust off the ballpark, which had been in hibernation since a season-ending loss to Baltimore in a one-game wild card playoff in October.

Darvish had a strikeout in each of the first and third innings, three in the second and two in the fourth. He had no walks.

“The sequence of pitches I used today is similar to what I’d use in the regular season,” Darvish said. “I had really good control.”

Broussard’s home run off Joe Ortiz accounted for Mexico City’s only run in the seventh.

“He was outstanding,” Washington said of his starting pitcher. “He had good zip on his fastball. He really pounded the zone.

“He’s gained some experience, and I think he’s more aware of what he can do better. And he’s just going out there and doing it.”

Looking for comments?

We welcome your comments on this story, but please be civil. Do not use profanity, hate speech, threats, personal abuse or any device to draw undue attention. Our policy requires those wishing to post here to use their real identity.

Our commenting policy | Facebook commenting FAQ | Why Facebook?

Friday, October 24Full Scoreboard
Kansas City1Bottom 4th | Box
San Francisco0@theBallpark | TV: FOX
110th World Series, Game Three. Series tied, 1-1.
Full Scoreboard
Friday, October 24Full Scoreboard
Dallas1114th Qtr 1:52 | Box
New York523rd Qtr 2:31 | Box
Toronto59TV: MSG, TSN2
Minnesota643rd Qtr | Box
Chicago64TV: CSN-CHI
San Antonio323rd Qtr | Box
Houston49TV: CSN-HOU, NBA TV
Miami543rd Qtr | Box
Memphis48TV: Sun Sports
Phoenix71st Qtr 7:45 | Box
Sacramento 10/24 10:00 PM ET
LA Lakers TV: TWC SN, D
Denver 10/24 10:30 PM ET
Golden State TV: CSN-Bay
Portland 10/24 10:30 PM ET
LA Clippers TV: FSN-PT, NBA TV
Full Scoreboard
Week 8Full Scoreboard
San Diego21Final | Box
Denver «35Gridiron Replay
Detroit 9:30 AM ET
Atlanta TV: FOX
Seattle 1:00 PM ET
Carolina TV: CBS
Baltimore 1:00 PM ET
Cincinnati TV: CBS
Miami 1:00 PM ET
Jacksonville TV: CBS
St. Louis 1:00 PM ET
Kansas City TV: FOX
Chicago 1:00 PM ET
New England TV: FOX
Buffalo 1:00 PM ET
Minnesota 1:00 PM ET
Tampa Bay TV: FOX
Houston 1:00 PM ET
Tennessee TV: CBS
Philadelphia 4:05 PM ET
Arizona TV: FOX
Oakland 4:25 PM ET
Cleveland TV: CBS
Indianapolis 4:25 PM ET
Pittsburgh TV: CBS
Green Bay 8:30 PM ET
New Orleans TV: NBC
Washington 8:30 PM ET
Dallas TV: ESPN
Full Scoreboard
Friday, October 24Full Scoreboard
Dallas22nd Prd 3:53 | Box
New Jersey1TV: FSN-SW, MSG+
Tampa Bay22nd Prd 13:17 | Box
Winnipeg1TV: SUN, TSN3
Vancouver11st Prd 13:30 | Box
Colorado0TV: TVA 2, SNE, SNO, SNP, Alt
Carolina 10/24 9:30 PM ET
Edmonton TV: SPSO, SN-W
Columbus 10/24 10:00 PM ET
Anaheim TV: FSN-OH, FSN-PT
Full Scoreboard