After months, even years, of numerous folks in the Texas Rangers organization going to see Yu Darvish pitch in Japan, Rangers manager Ron Washington finally got his first in-person look at the Japanese sensation on Tuesday in Surprise, Ariz., before spring training even officially kicked off.
And the man who will be setting the rotation and keeping tabs on Darvish's work liked what he saw in his first taste of what is to come, even if it was just a 30-pitch bullpen session.
Darvish is expected to face live hitters at some point this afternoon.
"I was anxious to see his style," Washington told ESPN. "What I gathered is that he’s a power pitcher with finesse stuff. He can power the baseball. He can change speeds, he can sink it and he can run it. He has a great feel for the baseball."
The part of that quote that sticks out is "power pitcher with finesse stuff."
The thinking is that Darvish can get hitters out by throwing strikes, while guys like Daisuke Matsuzaka relies on his junk pitches to get hitters to chase stuff out of the zone. Those are the type of pitchers major-league hitters eventually figure out, which has been the case with Dice-K. Hitters don't "figure" out guys that throw in the mid-90s with pinpoint precision.
Nolan Ryan even got in on the Darvish love, saying the Japanese pitcher has better control at age 25 than Ryan did as a youngster.
"That's one of the unique things about him is at 25 he's still a very young pitcher and he has a great delivery and control of his delivery and he has a good feel for his baseball," Ryan told the Associated Press. "When I say that, I mean he can throw different pitches, he can locate his pitches and so I think for a 25-year-old that's quite an accomplishment."