The most famous sports star in Japan, all 6-foot-5 of him, has coursed his way through the Metroplex the past two days as he attempts to get a feel for his future.
But that's all that was behind Yu Darvish's first trip to Texas as he, his representatives and the brain trust of the Texas Rangers continue to work toward a contract.
The sides have until 4 p.m. Jan. 18 to agree to terms after the Rangers shelled out a $51.7 million posting fee Dec. 19 for the right to negotiate with the right-hander.
General manager Jon Daniels confirmed on Tuesday morning that Darvish, his father and representatives were in town, but he declined to comment on either the visit or the ongoing negotiations with agents Arn Tellem and Don Nomora.
Second baseman Ian Kinsler, though, said that he and outfielder Josh Hamilton met Darvish on Monday as he toured Rangers Ballpark. He casts a big shadow.
"I didn't spend much time with him, but he's a big guy with a really solid presence," Kinsler said.
Darvish is expected to return to Japan as early as today so that he can begin his preparations for spring training Friday, as he previously scheduled.
Though the trip to the States might suggest that a deal is all but done, a baseball source suggested there is work to do ahead of the deadline in two weeks.
"He's not [there] for a press conference," the source said.
The Rangers likely won't have any signings to announce until they know if Darvish will agree to terms. Daniels said that the process is holding up other moves, such as potentially re-signing left-handed reliever Michael Gonzalez.
But Daniels said that the Rangers might go without a lefty as experienced as Gonzalez and Darren Oliver.
Instead, Michael Kirkman and possibly top prospect Martin Perez could be the lefties who are called upon to get outs in 2012.
"We've told Michael that he has a chance to come to spring training and win a job," Daniels said. "With him, it's all about whether he can command his fastball to make his slider more effective."
Oliver agreed to a deal with Toronto last week. Daniels said that he and Oliver had a very open dialogue, and Oliver will have a job in the Rangers' front office, if he wants it, once he retires.
"He could be a jack-of-all-trades," Daniels said. "Darren's a smart guy. He's been in the game more than 20 years."
The Rangers acquired first baseman Brandon Snyder from Baltimore for cash considerations. A first-round pick in 2005, Snyder played last season at Triple A and hit a career-high 14 homers.
Triple A manager Bobby Jones and Don Welke, the Rangers' senior special assistant to the GM, will be honored with awards in their name next week at the Dr Pepper Awards Show. The Bobby Jones Development Man of the Year and the Don Welke Scout of the Year will be given annually. Tickets still remain for the Jan. 12 event and can be purchased at texasrangers.com or by calling 972-726-4377.
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760