Spring Swing: Spending the day with Darvish (or, ‘Only wanna be with Yu’)

David Brown

PEORIA, Ariz. — The crowd of fans at the Peoria Sports Complex wasn't overwhelming for the spring debut of Yu Darvish (or "DebYu," if you must pun). It's easy to forget that he was pitching in suburban Phoenix, on a Wednesday, in the middle of the day. Fans have jobs, you know? He did bring about 150 reporters (most of whom seemed to be beaming pictures back to Japan) to an otherwise ordinary Cactus League game between the Texas Rangers and San Diego Padres.

It seemed like the start of something big.

As you might know, Darvish stands 6-foot-5 (tall for a pitcher from any country) and has singular matinee idol looks thanks to the genetic combination of having a Japanese mom and Iranian dad. At 25 years old, he's in the prime of his career and seems to have the talent befitting someone of a $111 million pricetag ($60 million for salary, the rest for a posting fee to his Japanese league team). Though he talked to reporters using a translator, Darvish understands a lot of English (though teammates Michael Young and Yorvit Torrealba suspect his Spanish is better right now).

He also has a chip on his shoulder, perhaps a combination of culture and competitiveness. He wasn't even willing to give in that Will Venable tagged a long double against him Wednesday. Overall, he fielded his position well and got himself out of a jam after Venable got to third base with one out. Just as notable was how Darvish was greeted:

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