Yu Darvish looks to build on rookie season

Yu Darvish looks to build on rookie season

Published Jan. 11, 2013 8:07 p.m. ET

ARLINGTON, Texas – Now that Yu Darvish is comfortable with his surroundings, imagine what kind of year he's capable of having in his second season with the Texas Rangers.

Darvish had a strong rookie season with Texas, winning 16 games and earning the club's rookie of the year honors.

Not only did Darvish have a big season on the field, he did it while making the transition from pitching in Japan and trying to learn a new culture and set of teammates.

He's looking to build on that this season.

"Compared to last year, I feel so much more at ease," Darvish said. "After finishing my first year, getting to know the players, coaches, front office personnel and getting to know all those guys. I feel like I'm part of the team now. It's a totally different feeling."

Darvish has a better idea of what to expect this season after experiencing the longer season in the majors and pitching every fifth day. He'll go to spring training next month hoping to use that knowledge and build off his first year.

"I've been able to plan, relax and prepare the way I want," Darvish said. "Last year there was more of rush in trying to prepare at a much quicker pace. I'm going at my own pace, working out, not getting hurt. This offseason preparation has been much better."

Darvish summed up his rookie season as "so-so" but the Rangers weren't complaining. He finished the season strong and started the playoff loss to Baltimore.

Now the club wants him to build off it.

"I don't think we have to try and get more out of him," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "I think what we have to get is him being relaxed and continuing his consistency that he showed the second half of the season. He's a strong kid and he made the adjustments he had to make. Coming into spring training, he knows how we do things now."

Darvish's name already litters the club's record books. His 221 strikeouts are tied for the fifth most by a Texas pitcher. He's just the seventh rookie to win at least 16 games in the majors since 1990 and he was just the fourth rookie to win at least 16 games and strike out at least 200 in a season in the last 100 years.

Darvish, who declined to get into specifics about what his offseason focus has been, hasn't set number goals for 2013.

"I don't have a specific number in mind," he said. "The bottom line is for this team to win and for me to pitch good enough for the team to win. I'll try to stay healthy and prepare and workout and pay particular attention to my diet and my training and do the same thing."