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Thirty-six pitches were closely monitored by over 150 media members on Wednesday, making the Peoria Sports Complex unusually lopsided. Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish made his spring training debut for the Texas Rangers, throwing 2 innings of scoreless ball, striking out 3 and giving up 2 hits.
The Rangers paid his Japanese club over $50 million just to have the right to negotiate with Darvish, who was then awarded a six year contract worth $56 million. The Rangers went on to beat a Padres split-squad, 6-2.
Darvish throws a half-dozen pitches and has reasonable command over all of them. Your average major league starter has three or four. The question is how well that the success of Darvish in Japan will carry over into Major League Baseball in North America. So far, the Rangers are impressed.
The Padres' Orlando Hudson and Will Venable each doubled off of Darvish, Venable's shot going to the deepest part of center field and banging high off of the wall. Otherwise, defense helped Darvish along with the strikeouts.
Rangers first baseman Michael Young took away a certain base hit by Mark Kotsay with a dive and a feed to the pitcher. And then the 6' 4" tall Darvish nabbed a high chopper off of the bat of James Darnell, which caught Venable stuck in between home plate and third base.
A couple of inches shorter and Darvish might not have reached it.
In his post-game press conference, Darvish was asked about Venable's hit. Through an interpreter, Darvish seemed to think that Venable didn't get the bat squarely on the ball, or perhaps the wind aided the hit.
Venable, in an interview on the Darren Smith Show (1090-AM) after the game, vehemently disagreed. Venable felt that if anything, the wind helped to knock the ball down.
"The wind saved it [from] being a home run. I also heard he said he didn't think I squared up that ball," Venable said.
"I don't know, maybe something was lost in translation. But I would like to hear a little more humility out of the guy. To each his own, I guess. He's a confident guy. And, of course, I didn't square up the ball because he's Yu Darvish."
If Will Venable can hit a baseball 440 feet without squaring up, then he deserves a huge contract extension right now.
Jeff Suppan started for the Padres and looked fine for his two innings. Joe Wieland pitched the next two innings and took the loss. Wieland sawed off some bats and got a little unlucky with where the balls landed. Hinshaw, Street, Gregerson, Thatcher, and Vincent each got an inning of work in Peoria.
Meanwhile in Goodyear, the other half of the Padres spring training roster beat the Cincinnati Reds, 5-0. Catcher Nick Hundley and outfielder Jeremy Hermida each homered for the Padres. Cory Luebke had an outstanding outing going the first two innings and striking out 4 while only giving up a hit and a walk.
Casey Kelly also pitched two hitless innings, with Cashner, Thayer, Palmer, Hamren and Brach each working for an inning.
Still no appearance by Chase Headley, Chris Denorfia, or Jason Bartlett, although they are all day-to-day and word is they are close to being able to go soon. John Baker was back, with a couple of at-bats, one of them against Darvish.
Baker says he saw five different pitches from Darvish. Still no firm word on Logan Forsythe's broken foot, but surgery is being considered as an option.
A few days ago, I was left scratching my head at a http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/7629005/ranking-uniforms-worst-best">piece that ESPN's Jim Caple wrote. The Padres camo jerseys the worst in baseball? I didn't understand it at the time, but I think the Reader's own Walter Mencken figured it out. http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs/almost-factual-news/2012/mar/07/the-old-hidden-ballplayer-trick/">Professional jealousy.
(Image: Yu Darvish, post-game press conference 03/07/12 in Peoria, courtesy of Darren Smith/Marty Caswell, BCA Radio, XX1090)