Yu Darvish headlines from January 25, 2012.
The Fighters prepared 220 seats at Sapporo Dome for reporters and camera crew on Tuesday.
Fighters' owner Yoshinori Okoso told reporters on Tuesday that they needed to consider the team, the city, and the fans when thinking about how to use Darvish's posting fee.
Tuesday's press conference lasted about 40 minutes and outdrew the previous two press conferences held at Sapporo Dome:
Yu Darvish leaving the team for the Majors (1/24/2012) - 10,811
Yuki Saito joining the team (12/9/2010) - ~8,000
Shinjo retiring (10/27/2006) - ~2,000
Shinjo joining the team (12/3/2003) - ~2,000
2,671 fans were in line when the gates to Sapporo Dome were opened at 2:35pm (25 minutes earlier than planned). The first fan to get in line at around 5am (when temps were around -8 degrees Celsius) was a 66-year-old man from Sapporo.
Darvish faced Daisuke Matsuzaka just once during his career in Japan: 6/27/2005, at Sapporo Dome.
Matsuzaka, L, 8 IP, 35 BF, 5 H, 2 BB, 2 HBP, 9 SO, 3 ER
Darvish, W, 7 IP, 28 BF, 5 H, 5 BB, 0 HBP, 4 SO, 2 ER
- Of the 324 pitchers that have tossed 1,000 or more total innings over their career, Darvish is just the six player to record an ERA under 2.00 and the second player since the two-league format. He is also the third pitcher in NPB history to record five consecutive seasons of ERAs under 2.00, first since the start of the two-league format.
- Darvish is the only pitcher in NPB history to log 1,000 or more innings and have a winning percentage above .700 (93-38, .710). He is also just the second pitcher to record six straight double-digit win and single-digit loss seasons.
- Darvish has 52 double-digit strikeout games over his career, 14 of which came last season. He also struck out 15 or more three times last year.
- Darvish recorded three consecutive shutouts last year and tossed 46 consecutive innings without allowing a run.
Comments from the press conference (taking just the ones that have not already been translated):
Your best memory?
The 2006 playoffs against Softbank when Kazumi Saito walked lead-off man [Hichori] Morimoto on four straight pitches with the fans going wild in the 9th inning. It made me think how such a great pitcher could be affected by the fans. I was not in the dugout at the time, but I can remember the cheering.
Your best moment?
My feels are the same for every pitch I threw and every game I pitched in. I went all out so I can not pick just one.
What were you most concerned about during negotiations?
I was never concerned about the terms of the money.
What will your first pitch in the Majors be?
That will be up to the catcher, no? I do not really care. I did not have any feelings one way or the other when I threw my first NPB pitch.
The main reason [for wanting to play in the US] is that I am a baseball player and I enjoy facing batters with the strong desire to get them out. I feel that is my job. When other players tell me... Hmm... How can I say this... When I hear things before games like "please do not pitch in this series," or "I give up," or "I cannot hit you," even if it in jest, I begin to feel as if the match-ups are not exactly fair. The expectations are different and I thought maybe playing in the Majors would be the answer. I just wanted to compete at a high level.
Comments from the press conference (again, just the ones that have not been translated before):
What do you think of the fans' desire to see you pitch in a Nippon Ham Fighter uniform before retiring?
Of course, if I do decide to return, there is no doubt that would be my first choice.
Your best memory?
It is not a game I pitched, but the 2006 playoffs [against Softbank]. Kazumi Saito was the pitcher and it was the bottom of the 9th. I vividly remember him walking the lead-off batter, Hichori [Morimoto]. I was watching from behind the dugout, the fans were going crazy. Saito was overcome by their cheering and I am sure he walked [Morimoto] on four straight pitches. That made me think about a great pitcher like this could not beat the cheering fans. That is when I started thinking more about the fans. I still remember the cheering. As for memories of my own games, I can not pick one because I put everything behind each game I pitched and each pitch I threw.
Who would you like to see become the face of the Fighters?
[Masao] Kida! I of course want Kida to do his best, but like the fans, I think [Sho] Nakata... I feel he needs to bat fourth and help the team win. There are a lot of young arms and I think they will all do well, but Nakata is number one.
Team owner Hiroji Okoso told reporters that instead of seeing Darvish return to Japan and play for the Fighters again some day, he was more interested in seeing Darvish become the type of player that can play out the rest of his career in the Majors.