January 24, 2012

Darvish says sayonara to 10,000, wants to be world's best

Yu Darvish will continue workouts in Japan before reporting to spring training by Feb. 22 in Arizona.

Yu Darvish didn't delve into his expectations during an introductory news conference on Friday at Rangers Ballpark. He also opted not to explain the reasons for leaving Nippon Professional Baseball for the Texas Rangers.

Darvish, though, provided those answers Tuesday with more than 10,000 fans on hand at the Sapporo Dome in Hokkaido, Japan, stating he wanted to be known as the best pitcher on the planet.

"These days the evaluations of the Japanese players are getting lower in the States, and I disagree with it, didn't like to see that the Japanese players were looked down upon like that," Darvish said. "I would like all the people in the world to say that the No. 1 pitcher is Darvish."

Darvish reached a six-year, $60 million contract with the Rangers on Jan. 18. Texas also paid a $51.7 million posting fee to Darvish's former team, the Hakkaido Nippon Ham Fighters.

Darvish will continue his off-season workouts in Japan before reporting to spring training in Surprise, Ariz., by Feb. 22. Darvish said he is looking forward to a new challenge: transitioning to the big leagues.

He dominated in Japan, going 93-38 with a 1.99 ERA in seven seasons, and averaged more than 200 innings the past five seasons. Last year, Darvish went 18-6 with a 1.44 ERA.

"When playing baseball [these days], it was difficult to maintain motivation," Darvish said.

Moreland at first?

Mitch Moreland is projected to be the Rangers' starting first baseman when the 2012 season begins.

Nolan Ryan said that early in the off-season, but the Rangers had been linked to Prince Fielder all winter. But Fielder reached a nine-year, $214 million contract with the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday.

General manager Jon Daniels said the Rangers were informed Monday that they were out of the Fielder sweepstakes, and were never really close in terms of years or money.

Now, all signs point to Moreland having the inside track for the first base job. He struggled last season with a right wrist injury, hitting .259 with 16 home runs and 51 RBIs. But Moreland had surgery on his wrist this winter, and said recently that he has begun swinging a bat and is focused on preparing for the season.

Outside of Moreland, Mike Napoli, Michael Young and possibly Brad Hawpe could see time at first in 2012.

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @drewdavison

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