Angels’ Wilson back to Texas vs. Rangers, Darvish

C.J. Wilson is sure to hear boos in his return to Texas. There

will also be a lot of ”Yuuuuu!”

Wilson, who left the Rangers after their second consecutive

World Series appearance to sign as a free agent with the AL West

rival Los Angeles Angels, makes his first start against his former

team Friday night.

The series opener matches the left-hander against Yu Darvish,

the Japanese standout who replaced him in the Texas rotation.

”I don’t get to face him. I would be very prepared for his

repertoire of fastballs, curveballs and splitters. … I would be

focusing a lot on that if it was the National League, but it’s

not,” Wilson said. ”My job is to face Nelson (Cruz), and Mike

Young and Josh Hamilton. Who I pitch against means nothing.”

Maybe so, but the starting matchup provides an intriguing

twist.

Wilson (4-2, 2.61) was the Rangers’ No. 1 starter last season,

but he said Texas never made him a formal contract offer last

winter before he signed a $77.5 million, five-year deal with his

hometown Angels.

The Rangers instead committed more than $107 million for

Darvish, the 25-year-old right-hander they scouted for more than

two years. Darvish (4-1, 2.54 ERA) got a guaranteed $56 million,

six-year contract and Texas also paid a record $51.7 million

posting bid to his team in Japan.

Wilson had spent his entire career with the Rangers, who drafted

him in the fifth round in 2001 out of Loyola Marymount. The

left-hander made his major league debut in 2005 as a starter, then

was a reliever and closer before moving back into the rotation and

going 31-15 the last two seasons.

”We know it’s going to be a challenge, but we’re certainly not

going crazy over facing C.J.,” Rangers manager Ron Washington

said. ”We’re going to go out there and do the best we can against

him.”

Since giving up five runs in the first two innings of his major

league debut last month, a home game he still won, Darvish has a

1.46 ERA over his last 37 innings. He won his first four decisions

before a loss in Cleveland on Sunday.

”That guy is the enemy of our hitters, not me,” Wilson said,

again trying to downplay the matchup against Darvish or any other

pitcher.

Wilson said the Rangers made him a three-year offer just before

his season-opening start last year, after he mentioned that it

didn’t look like they would make any offer. But he felt the timing

was weird and didn’t want to negotiate like that.

Now he’s pitching against the team he played with in two World

Series.

”It’s not emotional for me. It’s baseball. It’s a sport. It’s

my job,” Wilson said. ”Baseball is not emotional at all. It’s a

discipline for me. … For me, it’s a much more academic pursuit

than emotional. I study their hitters, try to find a weakness, try

to pitch to that weakness and then try to win the game.”

The Rangers again have the majors’ top hitting team. Going into

a doubleheader Thursday at Baltimore, after hitting four homers in

his previous game, Hamilton led the majors with a .406 average, 14

home runs and 36 RBIs.

Hamilton was among four Texas regulars hitting over .300.

Catcher Mike Napoli was hitting only .237, but his seven homers

were second-most on the team.

During spring training, after hearing that Napoli said he was

going to homer against him, Wilson put the catcher’s phone number

on Twitter. Wilson later deleted the tweet, and called it a

prank.

”I don’t know why he did it or what his reasoning was but it

was pretty silly,” Napoli said this week. ”We’re going to treat

it as a regular game. It’s a division rival but it’s early in the

season. We expect to win every day.”

The AL West-leading Rangers, who set a franchise record by

selling out their last six home games, have already sold every

reserved seat for the three games against Los Angeles.

”We’ll be playing in front of a huge crowd in a stadium that’s

relatively hostile to our team,” Wilson said. ”I’m sure it’ll be

fairly hostile to me personally. … Hey, they even booed me there

when I was a reliever. The main objective is just focusing on the

baseball aspect of it.”

Wilson described his former teammates as great and fun, reasons

people like watching them.

”You’ve got to do what’s right for you. And they moved the way

they did because that’s the way (general manager Jon) Daniels and

Nolan Ryan and the ownership group wanted to go. And there’s

nothing wrong with that,” Wilson said. ”At the end of the day I’m

not going to begrudge anybody for what they did or didn’t do.”

AP Sports Writers Dave Campbell and Jon Krawczynski in

Minneapolis, and AP Sports Writer David Ginsburg in Baltimore

contributed to this report.