Tag: Texas Rangers
According to the Dallas Morning News' Gerry Fraley, the Texas Rangers are interested in Kensuke Tanaka. A snip:
... Alan Nero, managing director of Octagon Baseball, acknowledged on Friday the Rangers' interest in Tanaka. Rangers general manager Jon Daniels does not comment on free agents.
Nero said several other clubs have expressed interest, but he declined to identify them. According to Japanese media reports, Baltimore and Cincinnati also are considering making offers to Tanaka.
... The Rangers envision Tanaka as a potential utility infielder, something the club rarely used last season. Alberto Gonzalez had the job for the first 110 games but appeared in only 24 of them. The Rangers went without a true utility infielder for most of the final two months.
Some more updates on Shohei Otani's meeting with the Texas Rangers on Tuesday:
- Jim Colborn (Senior Advisor, Pacific Rim Operations), Josh Boyd (Director, Professional Scouting), scout Hajime Watabe, and single-A outfielder Hirotoshi Onaka represented the Texas Rangers.
- Onaka told Otani about the difficulties he encountered during his first year -- language, culture, and lifestyle differences. Onaka told reporters that Otani seemed to pull back a bit when he heard about how rough things can be.
- The meeting started at 2pm and ended after 5:30pm.
- The Rangers stressed that they are an organization that has a good understanding of Japanese players.
- Colborn gave Otani baseballs autographed by Yu Darvish and Nolan Ryan.
- Otani did not speak to reporters.
- Six MLB teams are said to be interested. That includes the Rangers, Dodgers, and Red Sox.
- Interested NPB teams have reportedly finished their meetings with Otani in September.
Yu Darvish updates from February 28:
- [Daily Sports] Darvish was seen wearing a red sleeve on his right arm during practices on Sunday. Rangers' pitchers have been using the sleeve because it keeps the arm warm. Greg Maddux spent some time getting to know him.
- [Daily Sports] Darvish will be starting an exhibition game against the San Diego Padres on March 7. He will most likely pitch around two innings.
- [Daily Sports] Darvish faced five minor league batters and threw thirty-three pitches during batting practice on Monday.
- [Sponichi] Darvish faced eight batters and threw thirty-three pitches. He also shifted the protective screen in front of the mound and showed better command of his pitches (the net apparently got in his way the last two batting practices).
- [Nikkan Sports] Former Nippon Ham manager Masataka Nashida dropped by training camp and watched Darvish toss batting practice.
- [Sponichi] Saeko posted an update on her blog entitled, "Best Friend." The post includes a photo of her with Darvish. Darvish posted an update on his blog about how Spring Training is going so far.
Nikkan Sports has posted comments from Darvish's press conference on Monday:
How was your day today?
It was very good.
Could you expand on that a little more? What was good about it?
The feeling in my finger tips and my body movements are improving.
How much did you put into workouts today?
About 120%. (laughter)
You are not used to pitch with a protect net in front of the mound, what are you thoughts?
Well, I had some difficulty throwing with it the last time and the time before that. So I shifted it a little to improve my view and it made it easier for me to throw.
What did you focus on as batting practice pitcher?
The only thing is just making sure my body moves the way I want it to. And today it was moving much better than the last time.
Your have a splitter and change. Are these pitches you threw in the past?
I threw the splitter two to three years ago but have not thrown it all over the last two or so years. I have always thrown the change, but I had a good feel for it during my last game last year so I have maintained that.
You worked with an MLB baseball during the off-season, but now you are here and the climate is different. How does the baseball feel?
They are taking the sheen off the baseballs so they are very easy to throw. I get a lot of movement as well.
Via Nikkan Sports, the Dallas Morning News' Gerry Fraley provides the following update on Yu Darvish:
"We'll keep an eye on the volume of throwing," Maddux said.
The report on Darvish is he has "the ability to throw more pitches than the catcher has fingers," Maddux said. That fits the Japanese style of working the edges of a large strike zone and being comfortable going to full counts. Darvish had seven starts last season of 130-plus pitches.
With the Rangers, Maddux said, Darvish must determine which are his best three to four pitches, live and die with them and go for outs early in a count. High pitch counts will not work in the summer heat of Texas.
ESPN's Richard Durrett discusses the PR/money-making opportunities that come with signing a playing like Darvish.
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.
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.
Headlines for Yu Darvish from January 24, 2012 (will be updated over the course of the day):
The media learned on Sunday that Darvish's former teammates are preparing a video message that will be played during his press conference at Sapporo Dome later today (January 24).
The team has also requested that fans wait until 7am to begin lining up.
Most recent entry (January 23):
I have returned to Japan after safely holding a press conference.
I struggled with jet lag.
Also, thank you for the many comments I received about my private life.
We came upon our decision after thinking about our children first and foremost during our lengthy conversations.
I think I will be able to my kids a lot because my relationship with her is still good.
Also, the media came out with a lot of stories about her that have no rhyme or reason; most if it is untrue.
She tried to be devoted in her support for me and she did her best for the family.
She never asked for an outrageous amount in damages or child support payments.
I would like to continue to cheer her on as she would like to continue to cheer me on.
I am sure, just like her own mother, she will overflow with even more motherly love.
To everyone that cheered us on,
Even though we have parted ways, it would make me happy if we could continue to receive your support.
UPDATE @ 11:15am -
Darvish's press conference will be carried by NHK and four other commercial broadcast channels in Hokkaido. The Fighters have also set aside about 7,000 seats and are prepared to provide more should more fans appears.
The Fighters are planning to allow Darvish to use their facilities until he heads to the US.
A Fighters' fan group dropped by the team offices and submitted 200 hand-written messages addressed to Darvish. The messages will be hand-delivered by the club today.
If the Texas Rangers open the 2013 season in Japan, it could be at Sapporo Dome.
Darvish will continue his workouts in Japan for the time being, but with regards to February, there are three possibilities: remain in Japan, go to Hawaii, head to Arizona. Hawaii appears to be the top choice. Arizona apparently is not because the weather is still a bit unstable in February.
Introduces Seiichiro Nakagaki as a leading candidate to become Darvish's personal trainer. Nakagaki was the Fighters' chief trainer between 2004 and 2010.
Darvish can use any of the Fighters' training facilities in Kamagaya and Sapporo in February since the team will be holding spring camp in Okinawa.
Notes that the Fighters are preparing 6,800 seats at Sapporo Dome.
Yu Darvish headlines from Monday, January 23, 2012.
Information Darvish's t-shirt
Darvish could be on his way back to Japan today. He is scheduled for a press conference at Sapporo Dome tomorrow (January 24).
Notes a Dallas Morning News article outlining how the Texas Rangers approached Darvish and how Bob Simpson (co-chairman of the board) went from being a skeptic to being a believer (after a three hour meeting with Nolan Ryan and Jon Daniels.
Darvish is thinking about hiring Romash Tasuku Dass to be a part of his support crew in the US and to possibly help him get back into baseball.
Dass and Darvish are somewhat similar in that they are over 190cm tall, are right-handed, and are from bicultural families. That connection may have been what led Darvish to take Dass under his wing.
Mentions that Darvish's t-shirt was a part of the 2010 Fall collection, sold for 68,250 yen, and is no longer available for sale.
Spring Training facilities: the Rangers are reportedly planning to increase the number of seats (from 24 to 89) they have for the media at Surprise Stadium. They have also worked out a deal with Surprise Aquatic Center for work areas that reporters can use for free (internet, bathrooms, air conditioning).
UPDATE @ 9:57pm - Darvish arrived at Narita Airport earlier today.
UPDATE @ 10:43pm - About 300 fans and 100 reporters greeted Darvish at the airport.
Headlines on Yu Darvish from January 22.
Darvish's Marijuana T-Shirt - The t-shirt is making waves in the US. When asked about his t-shirt: "I did not worry about what I wore when in Japan. I wore things with English written on them. I realized what I was wearing when my father told me. There really is no meaning behind me wearing [this t-shirt]."
English Links: Far out: Was that a marijuana leaf t-shirt that Yu Darvish was sporting today in Texas? (Yahoo Big League Stew)
A brief interview with Neftali Feliz that includes the following quotes: "Leave the late innings to me. ... That would be the ideal way to help the team record victories. But I may not have a chance [to close because he goes the distance]. ... I have seen footage of him pitch. I felt a little scared thinking about how he throws his fastball down at you. I am sure that will pitch will work well for him."
Darvish arrived Dallas/Fort-Worth International Airport 4:24pm, about two and a half hours before his press conference. There were twenty TV cameras in the lobby, eleven of them from US and Japanese TV stations. Five police officers, that were hanging back at first, rushed in to keep Darvish safe. A Japanese TV cameraman hit his head in the commotion and bled. A police car also arrived at the scene to help.
At the stadium, eight broadcasting vans were parked outside the stadium. A total 40 TV cameras and 200 reporters provided coverage.
Notes that pitchers in the US average about one bullpen session (40-50 pitches) every two days or so during spring training.
What did you say to [Yoshinori] Tateyama and [Koji] Uehara?
I told them that I looked forward to working with them, but I did not ask them about what it is like [to play for the Rangers].
Which batter[s] would you like to face?
I do not really know them that well, so I can not think of any off the top of my head. I did watch the Rangers play the Cardinals during the World Series.
Why did you decide to come to the Majors at this time?
I went through a number of things before making the decision. I will talk about it when I return to Japan.
You watched game six of the 2011 World Series, would you like to pitch in that kind of game?
If I was there pitching as my 2011 self I think I would have lost on a homer. But, I think my 2012 self will be ok.
You will be playing in the same division as Albert Pujols.
I have not seen a lot of his plate appearances, but it does seem like he can hit the ball far.
Texas is about barbecue steak, your thoughts?
I ate steak. I also think of boots.
Your impressions of Nolan Ryan.
He gave me a book. He is a big man and it seemed like he could still throw 150km/h.
What about an English speech?
My listening is ok but I have a hard to with words when I speak. I think I will get better if I have about two months. [I could not prepare a speech because] I came straight from my training in Miyazaki. I did not even have time to shave or dye my hair.
The Fighters have held free press conferences at Sapporo Dome on two occasions in the past: Shinjo's retirement in October 2006 and Saito Yuki introduction in December 2010. Darvish's press conference will be the third.
Mentions how Darvish has given up just 58 homers in 1,268.1 innings of work and just 10 homers over the last two season (434 innings). Then notes in a separate article how 228 homers were hit at Rangers Ballpark last year, tops in the majors.
Recalls that Darvish tossed two bullpen sessions when pitching on six days of rest. Also breaks down the schedule:
- Day One: played catch with his left and did some light running on the first day after his last start
- Day Two: excused from team practices, does his own training routine
- Day Three: first of two bullpen sessions
- Day Four: focus on running and dashes
- Day Five: second of two bullpen sessions
- Day Six: short dashes and playing catch (while having his partner squat)
Darvish's mother told reporters that English was the primary language at home until Darvish turned three or four. That slowly changed over time as Darvish's father learned Japanese. In either case, she feels Darvish should be fairly used to listening to English.
Introduces Yuichi "Joe" Furukawa (41) as Darvish's interpreter.
When Darvish took the mound after his press conference, he threw the ball with both his left and right arms.
GM Jon Daniels is apparently open to the idea of the Rangers beginning their season in Japan at some point in the future.
Masumi Kuwata feels that if Darvish is really thinking of this as a challenge, then he should do this by himself, not by enlisting the help of Japanese trainers, nutritionists, or interpreters.
Darvish got the Nippon Ham Fighters to improve their weight room (he asked about it in December 2006 during salary negotiations) and player showers (he asked about it in January 2011) at Sapporo Dome.
Comments from the press conference (again, just sections not included in a previous update):
How will you prepare for the hot Texas summers?
I have not experienced it but I think I can think of ways to get over it. But right now, I am not really sure.
Has anyone like Ichiro, [Hideki] Matsui, or [Daisuke] Matsuzaka, given you any advice?
They have not said anything to me, but I think since I will be in America, I will have to do things like an American.
You mentioned doing things like an American, what about pitching?
With regards to pitching, I have not faced any batters so I can not really say how I will approach them. What I meant with what I said before is about my private life. I can not be as sensitive about things as I was when I lived in Japan. I just have to go with the flow.
What was your meeting with the managers and coaches like when you visited earlier this month?
It did not feel like a meeting. They made me feel like I was going out to eat with family. That was a lot of fun and that made me happy.
Which team were your cheering for during the 2011 World Series? The Rangers were one out away from winning it, would you have been able to seal the deal?
All the Nippon Ham players were rooting for Texas. If it was my 2011 self, I probably would have lost by giving up a homer. I think my 2012 self will do just fine.
What do you think of Texas? What would you like to accomplish?
Texas is a great place. It does not really feel new either. I think I should continue the things I have been doing during my time with Nippon Ham, like how I prepare and how I train. I think I should continue to practice hard until spring training.
Have you eat Texas barbecue? What do you think is unique about Texas?
I have not eaten barbecue, but I did eat steak. I think the boots are unique.
We hear you read a book on Nolan Ryan when you were younger. You also spoke about pitching. Your impressions?
We did speak about that. He also gave me a book. He's a big guy and it felt like he could still hit 150km/h.
What do you plan on doing until spring training?
I will return to Japan and begin a throwing program soon, or rather toss a bullpen session. I would like to be prepared, at least to some degree, for spring training.
Notes a ten hour flight and a fifteen hour time difference. They also mention 27 TV cameras and about 250 reporters.
UPDATE @ 3:31pm - Darvish's press conference at Sapporo Dome on January 27 will begin at 4pm. Doors to the stadium will open at 3pm. While admission will be free (the Fighters will foot the stadium usage fees), parking will not. The Fighters are expecting about 10,000 fans.
Yu Darvish was greeted by about 200 fans at Dallas/Fort-Worth International Airport on Friday. His press conference at Rangers Ballpark at 7pm CST (1/20) attracted eight TV cameras and around 200 reporters from the US and Japan. The Star-Telegram's Jeff Wilson has posted a video from the press conference.
Darvish did not speak any English during the press conference. When asked by a reporter if he knew any English, he replied, "I can understand it fine, but in speaking I have a hard time coming up with the words. I think I will be able to speak in one to two months."
What do you think of when you think of Texas?
Is 400-game winner Masaichi Kaneda still alive?
He is very healthy.
On pitching on fewer days of rest...
During the last half of the 2011 season, I had a few starts where I pitched on five days of rest. And I was able to throw about 120 pitches on five days of rest. I do not think I will have any problems.
On pitching outdoors...
It seems like people see me as pitching well indoors, but over the last three years, I liked pitching outdoors more. I find it easier pitching outdoors.
Nikkan Sports is carrying the following comments from the press conference:
What pushed you to sign with the Rangers?
I came here at the start of January and had a chance to meet the GM and other members of the organization. They all treated me like family and that was a big deal for me.
All eyes will be on you.
I am still that baseball loving kid that was born and raised in Habikino, Osaka. I still feel a little surprised at all the attention.
What about the differences in the environment?
I think I will be able to handle the differences in the ball. I am a little concerned about the size of the stadium. I asked them in January if they could push make the bullpens out in right-center a little smaller and push the fences back, but I do not know if they will do it.
Did you get any advice from other players like Ichiro?
No, but I do think I have to try to become an American. I have to be careful about becoming sensitive about my private life, like I was in Japan.
What would you like to accomplish?
My fastball really is not as fast as everyone thinks. But I do have a number of off-speed pitches so I think I will alright.
What about the pressure and your goals?
All I can do is do my best. The most important thing is staying healthy and playing out a full season. Regarding the pressure, maybe it has something to do with not being very bright, but I think I can enjoy myself without worrying about it.
What about concerns and things you look forward to?
I do not have any concerns. And I look forward to playing with great hitters and pitchers.
On the number eleven.
I wore the number for seven years. I am not that attached to it, but the team gave it to me.
UPDATE @ 5:16pm - Darvish will be holding his press conference in Japan on January 24 at Sapporo Dome. At his request, a stage will be set next to the mound and the seats on the third base side will be opened to fans for free.