Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers said he won’t pitch for Japan at the World Baseball Classic, citing his workload over the past few seasons and a desire to be rested for the 2013 Major League Baseball campaign.
Japan captured the first two WBC titles and Darvish got the win in relief in the 2009 championship game, when Japan defeated South Korea 5-3 in 10 innings.
“This was a very difficult decision for me as it is always a tremendous honor to represent my native country,” Darvish said in a statement. “I greatly enjoyed being a part of the 2009 championship ballclub and I will be supporting this year’s team as they look to defend their title. There are many very talented players in Japan and I am confident this team will uphold Japan’s great tradition.”
The 2013 WBC begins March 2, when Japan opens pool play in Fukuoka as part of a group that includes Cuba, China and a regional qualifier to be determined. The WBC championship game in San Francisco is scheduled for March 19, two weeks before the Rangers open the regular season.
Darvish, a 26-year-old right-hander, came to the U.S. for the 2012 major league season after the Rangers paid a record $51.7 million fee for the right to negotiate with the two-time Most Valuable Player in Japan’s Pacific League.
After receiving a six-year, $60 million contract, Darvish had a 16-9 record with a 3.90 earned run average in 29 starts for the Rangers and made the American League All-Star team.
“Given my substantial workload over the last few seasons and the numerous changes I’ve endured in my move to the United States, I have decided with my team of advisers that getting ample rest is the most important thing for me right now as I prepare for the 2013 season,” Darvish said.
Darvish said his ultimate goal is to help the Rangers win a World Series and share that accomplishment with baseball fans in Japan. After losing in the World Series in 2010 and 2011, the Rangers went 93-69 during the 2012 season and were knocked out of the playoffs with a 5-1 home loss against the Baltimore Orioles in the AL wild card game. Darvish was the losing pitcher, allowing three runs over 6 2/3 innings.
The Rangers said in a statement that they support Darvish’s “very difficult decision.”
“He made an outstanding transition in his first year in Major League Baseball and we look forward to another strong season from him in 2013,” the team said.
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