Perhaps the most intriguing story in all of baseball in April will be how Texas Rangers starting pitcher Yu Darvish fares against MLB hitters. On Friday, Texas' hitters got the first taste of Darvish, as Darvish took the mound against four pretty good batters -- Ian Kinsler, Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus.
Richard Durrett has some tidbits on the outing up over at ESPN Dallas, with an interesting mix of quotes and data.
Speaking of velocity, Darvish's hardest fastball hit 96 mph. He threw a 66 mph curve ball to Elvis Andrus, something catcher Dusty Brown described as "a video-game pitch." He mixed in two-seamers with good movement too.
Hitting 96 in early March? Not bad at all. Especially when you consider that Darvish was quite hard on himself after the outing too, especially in regards to his fastball:
Asked if his fastball was ready for the regular season, Darvish shook his head.
"Not close at all," he said through interpreter Joe Furukawa. "At this time every year my fastball quality and the feel is not good. I still have a month to go, but my fastball life and the quality is not even close to game form yet."
Darvish did struggle a bit on Friday, falling behind three of the four batters he faced.
"I don't think we saw the best of him," pitching coach Mike Maddux said. "He faced four guys and we were behind in the count to three of them. That's something we've got to work on. But he came back and faced one of the best hitters in the world in Adrian Beltre and went on the attack with him and got a quick out.
It's tough to read into anything from intrasquad games, and in all reality, the results are entirely meaningless. It's just exciting to see Darvish on the mound facing some excellent hitters, and by all accounts, the reports on his stuff are quite good.
We'll see how Darvish does against San Diego later this week, when he's scheduled to throw 35-40 pitches.