Yu Darvish delivers strikes, zeroes for Texas Rangers in spring debut
Disdaining full windup, Yu delivers with scoreless outing
03/07/2012 11:01 PM
03/24/2013 1:08 AM
PEORIA, Ariz. -- In two innings of ordinarily meaningless Cactus League baseball Wednesday afternoon, there wasn't much Yu Darvish didn't do.
The Texas Rangers' right-hander threw strikes. He threw all seven of his pitches. He threw some of them hard. He fielded his position very well.
But he never threw a pitch from the full windup.
That was the only peculiarity -- at least to the U.S. media contingent and the vast majority of the paltry gathering of 2,910 -- from Darvish's highly anticipated first start against a major league team, even if it was in spring training.
He allowed two doubles in two scoreless innings and struck out three San Diego Padres in a game that was decided while he was addressing questions from a 100-member-strong media group.
He handled them as well as he did the Padres.
"I was just happy to be able to pitch in a game against another opponent," Darvish said, through interpreter Joe Furukawa. "I was happy with my four-seam fastball, and my slider was working well.... It's early. It's early for those hitters as well, but it is nice to face those guys."
Darvish threw 36 pitches, 26 for strikes, and again used seven pitches. He topped out on the radar gun at 95 mph and was never slower than 91 mph with his fastball.
Most significant is that he threw a first-pitch strike to the first six hitters and to seven of the eight he faced on a breezy, chilly afternoon at the Peoria Sports Complex.
The fact that he didn't use the full windup is nothing new for him. He worked out of the stretch exclusively for much of last season before using the windup later in the year.
It was news in Japan when he arrived at spring training and started to throw from the full windup. Pitching coach Mike Maddux knew, and said that he won't push the windup on Darvish.
"I've got to check the rulebook, but I don't think there's an infraction for pitching out of the stretch," Maddux cracked. "It's OK to pitch out of the stretch. The biggest pitches you make in a game are out of the stretch."
Darvish surrendered a double in each inning, the first to Orlando Hudson with one out in the first and then a leadoff double in the second to Will Venable that hit more than halfway up a 30-foot wall in center field.
It would have been a home run in every park in the American League, even if it was a byproduct of the conditions.
"With the dry air in Arizona and the wind blowing out, it carried the ball," said Darvish, who received a no-decision in the Rangers 6-2 victory. "It didn't seem like a ball that was hit that squarely."
Venable, who hit a fastball down the middle rather than its intended inside location, seemed to agree.
"I never expected it to go out, so I put my head down and ran," said Venable, who then acknowledge the obvious. "He was lucky it didn't go out."
Darvish started the game with a strikeout of Cameron Maybin before Hudson lined a double to right field. Darvish got Jesus Guzman on a liner to center field, and struck out Carlos Quentin with a hard curveball to end the inning.
After Venable's double, Darvish was quick to cover first and receive a toss from first baseman Michael Young for the first out on a Mark Kotsay grounder. The next hitter, James Darnell, hit a chopper to the mound that Darvish reached to snag and threw home to cut down Venable.
John Baker then struck out on another off-speed pitch to end Darvish's day.
"I think it was a split," catcher Yorvit Torrealba said. "I don't know. It was something good."
Manager Ron Washington liked how Darvish responded to adversity and loved how he fielded his position.
"He's going to give up base hits," Washington said. "Once they got the leadoff double, we wanted to see how he would react. He got a chopper and made a nice play, and then struck the next guy out. Nice debut."
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760
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