Texas right-hander Yu Darvish didn’t just dominate on the mound in Sunday’s intrasquad game.
Darvish dominated in his postgame interview, and not in Japanese either.
Darvish conducted his first interview session with American beat writers in English and put to bed any notion that he quit on the Rangers last season when he went down with inflammation in his right elbow.
"That’s bull—-," said Darvish, who did his press conferences only with an interpreter in his first three seasons. "People are talking about Yu Darvish quitting this team. I never quit the team. I love the teammates, this ballclub. I’ve never done like that in my life. It’s not true."
Darvish spoke for more than six minutes and put to rest any notion that he could be pitched for the Rangers last season and addressed several other topics. Through it all Darvish seemed as comfortable as he has in any of his first three seasons with the Rangers.
If he’s as comfortable on the mound this season it could make for long nights for opposing batters. His ability to speak English is just one of the reasons.
"I talk English so much now with teammates and teammates are good to me," Darvish said. "Everything’s going great. Learning English is hard but if I can speak it’s easier to communicate. In Japan a lot of people come to Japan and never speak Japanese. We feel bad but if they speak Japanese we feel good so I have to be like that."
Darvish said he believes his teammates understood he couldn’t pitch last year after he went on the disabled list in August. Darvish believed he’d be able to pitch again last season but that thought came to an end not by his doing. He tried to throw but felt a burning in his elbow.
"After I got the MRI that showed bad ligament injury, inflammation, after that I changed my mind," he said. "Dr. (Keith) Meister said it would be bad for your career. I felt the same thing. Everybody said just that, not just Meister, a lot of people."
Darvish said his injury was similar to that of the ones that sidelined both Tanner Scheppers and Alexi Ogando. General manager Jon Daniels said Sunday that Darvish had inflammation in the ligament and the MRI clearly showed an issue and that the inflammation Darvish had ran across the fibers of his elbow ligament.
Daniels said it made no sense for Darvish to pitch the final couple of weeks in a 67-win season. Daniels also said the club downplayed the severity of the injury because the club had already dealt with so many serious injuries in 2014.
But that was 2014 and the Darvish that spoke Sunday after striking out two of the three batters he faced in an intrasquad game is clearly in a different place.
"We talked at the time (when we signed him) that the easiest part of the transition was between the lines," Daniels said. "He was as a teenager a phenom. He’s kind of always been under a spotlight. He hasn’t said this, it’s my speculation. Growing up with that it takes a little time to be comfortable, especially with a different culture, a different language and a different country."
Darvish, whose girlfriend is expecting a baby, said he’s happy with where he’s at in his life but that sometimes he doesn’t want to show it.
He’s also taking the message he received from his new manager to heart. Banister made it clear to him the first time they met in November
"Jeff Banister told me you have to be more aggressive," Darvish said. "I’m not so aggressive. This spring training I’ve changed minds and I’m getting better with my pitching."
Banister thought that was on display Sunday too as Darvish wasn’t afraid to work inside to Texas hitters.
"Watching him from the outside and watching videotape, it looks like there are times opposing hitters look like they are trying to push him out over the plate," Banister said. "I’d like to see him be more aggressive with his hard stuff, more aggressive in. Open up the outer part of the plate for himself. Attack the hitters. Look to get early outs. Any time you’re looking to get early outs that’s an aggressive approach."