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
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
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
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
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
”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
”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.