Darvish in good shape heading into season

April 4, 2012

FRISCO, Texas — The Texas Rangers can only hope right-hander Yu Darvish feels as good in his first regular-season start as he did in his first outing in the state Wednesday.

Darvish pitched four scoreless innings in a 6-1 victory against Double-A Frisco in his final exhibition start on a Chamber of Commerce kind of day at Dr Pepper Ballpark. It was his first start in Texas after six appearances in Arizona.

The Rangers have to hope Darvish doesn't think the weather will be like Wednesday every time he pitches in Arlington.

"Very comfortable," said Darvish after his 60-pitch outing. "I didn't think it would be this much different (the weather). I didn't think I would feel this comfortable throwing here."

Not only was Darvish comfortable with the weather, but he was also comfortable with the results.

He allowed a pair of two-out singles in the second inning on balls that weren't hit hard by Val Majewski and Ryan Strausborger. Only one more ball made it out of the infield after that on a day in which he struck out five and walked two.

"Today I threw all of the pitches I wanted to throw," he said. "Overall I felt good about my outing today."

Darvish, who had a 3.60 ERA in his "A" starts in Arizona, said he accomplished everything he wanted in Arizona. Wednesday's start pushed his inning total to 25 this spring counting his two intrasquad outings. He feels good about where he's at heading into his start against Seattle Monday at Rangers Ballpark, but isn't putting too much emphasis on that outing.

"I just want to stay where I am," said Darvish, who began his start with strikeouts of Jurickson Profar and Leury Garcia. "Even Opening Day in Japan I try not to get overly excited. The way I feel right now is I'm going to prepare the next four days just like I'm preparing for another start. I try not to get too overly excited."

Darvish has certainly met all the expectations the Rangers have had for him this spring. They don't seem too concerned about his ability to carry that over to a regular-season game either.

"He did exactly what you're supposed to do in spring training — each time you take the ball you get better," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "He did. That's the progression for anybody in spring training. I think he had to make the biggest adjustment, getting used to a different type of clubhouse, getting used to a different climate in the way we do things over here. He did an excellent job of doing that."

It wasn't a perfect spring for Darvish and that may be a blessing.

He's pitching better now than when he started spring training in Arizona. His ability to deal with the early-spring adversity impressed pitching coach Mike Maddux. Counting Wednesday's start and an intrasquad game, Darvish had 26 strikeouts in his last 15 innings.

"The guy came over here with a lot of hoopla and the first couple of outings were rough," Maddux said. "He got better each time out. He said 'That's OK. We're fine. It's no big deal.' We're all expecting more. At the end of the day you look at him today and it was no big deal. I thought our expectations right off the get-go with all the advertisement wasn't fair. What we saw today and what we're going to see Monday, that's the real deal."