News and notes from Darvish's press conference at Sapporo Dome today (this post will be updated as needed).
From various TV reports
10,811 fans attended the press conference. And despite the snow (morning temps were -6.9 degrees Celsius), fans were already waiting in line at 10am (some even at 5am). Gates at Sapporo Dome were opened 25 minutes earlier (2:35pm) than originally planned because so many fans were in line.
Reasons for heading to the Majors:
He likes playing in Japan and feels that the environment is perfect for him, but also feels that expectations have changed.
He did not like it when other players said they did not want to face or did not want him to throw certain pitches, even if it was in jest, because he wanted to compete at a high level. He just wants to compete.
He does not like how the rest of the world has started looking down on Japanese players lately.
He ultimately wants to become known as the best pitcher in the world.
Darvish also said that it would be nice if he could return to Sapporo in the future.
What are you feeling right now?
I am really sad about leaving Hokkaido.
What made you want to go to the Majors?
I did not want to go at first and even said that I would rather quit than go. That feeling has not changed, but expectations and perceptions have. I am a baseball player and I enjoy getting batters out and that is what I want to continue doing. Playing in Japan suits me the best, but what I need is in the Majors. I felt that in order to do my job, I needed to change my job location.
Negotiations with the Rangers came down to the wire.
I left it all up to my agents. [Arn] Tellem did tell me that he felt negotiations would go well. I heard that they were going to run close to the deadline. I did not really care about the money.
Your impression of the Rangers?
I did not watch a lot of their games, but the people in the front office and the players all warmly welcomed me and they seemed similar to Nippon Ham.
What kind of pitcher do you want to become?
I want to become the type of pitcher any one in the world can say is the world's best pitcher.
Do you have a message for the Nippon Ham players or other people involved?
Everyone on Nippon Ham is working hard and I think they will do well. I want the other people involved to work hard too. And we (the players) can not give it our best without the help of the fans. The other players feel the same way. If the fans can continue to support the team as they have in the past, I think this team will do well.
If you were ever to return to Japan, would it be to Nippon Ham?
If I were to return to Japan, Nippon Ham would be my top choice. No doubt about that.
Which player do you have your eyes on?
The team needs to win with [Sho] Nakata batting clean-up. Nakata is the key.
Do you have a message for the fans that came to Sapporo Dome?
I joined the team in 2005 and immediately got off on the wrong foot (caught smoking despite being minor). When I made it back and had a hero interview, you gave me a warm reception and that made me happy. I am grateful for the seven years of support you gave me. I do not know how things will go when the [playing] environment changes, but I would like to do my best. It would make me happy if I can ultimately return here.
UPDATE 1/25 @ 2:33am - Sponichi has also posted comments from the press conference:
You were with the Nippon Ham Fighters for seven years.
They took good care of me and having to leave makes me sad. I would not have been able to perform at my best without the support from fans.
Your reasons for heading to the US.
The game environment in Japan suited me, but the expectations did not and I thought the Majors could provide me with that. This was a really tough decision, but I felt I needed a change.
You said you were not interested in the Majors.
It is difficult to maintain the motivation to play. The value of Japanese players have dropped in the US. I did not like being looked down on and that also played into my decision.
What was your impression of the Rangers?
The front office, the manager, the coaches, and the fans, all gave me a warm welcome. I think they are similar to Nippon Ham.
Is winning a World Series a goal?
I do not even know how MLB games are played out so I can not easily say that we will win a championship, but I will do what I can and if that yields good results, then I will be happy.
What kind of pitcher do you want to become?
I want people around the world to say that Darvish is the world's best pitcher.
Do you have a message for the fans?
I joined the team in 2005 and got into trouble right away. Even though I hit a bump in the beginning, you gave me a warm reception during my hero interview after my first start. I am thankful/grateful for all the support you have given me over the last seven years.