Yu Darvish, the two-time Most Valuable Player in Japan’s Pacific League, says he is ready to be “Americanized” as he adjusts to playing U.S. baseball for the Texas Rangers.
Darvish was introduced last night by General Manager Jon Daniels whose Major League Baseball team paid a record $51.7 million fee for the right to negotiate with the right-handed pitcher. Darvish, 25, said he signed with the Rangers because team members including Daniels treated him like family.
“I know there are a lot of adjustments I need to make, not only in the United States and Texas, but I know baseball is different,” Darvish said through an interpreter at the press conference. “When I was on the mound and looked over my shoulder, I thought the wall was a little closer. I have to become more Americanized.”
The Rangers didn’t disclose terms of the 25-year-old’s six-year contract, which MLB.com said is worth approximately $60 million. Darvish has gone 93-38 with a 1.99 earned run average in seven seasons with the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters.
The Rangers’ posting fee, which gave them 30 days to reach an agreement with Darvish and his agents, surpassed the highest previous Major League Baseball posting fee for a Japanese player, the $51.1 million the Boston Red Sox bid in 2007 for pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka.
“I am looking forward to a different environment, different hitters and a different league,” said Darvish, who went 18-6 with a 1.44 ERA in 28 games for Nippon Ham last season. Darvish also said his repertoire of breaking pitches may help him achieve good results, even if his fastball doesn’t have a high velocity.
The Rangers begin spring training next month and open the season on April 6 at home against the Chicago White Sox.
Texas won the American League championship the past two seasons before losing in the World Series to the San Francisco Giants in 2010 and the St. Louis Cardinals last year.
“This year, I want to do the best I can, make my starts and do the best for the team,” he said.