SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Yu Darvish threw a five-minute bullpen session and then tossed 22 pitches to minor-leaguers Jake Skole and Mike Olt as part of his workout Saturday.
Olt, a right-handed hitter, made contact four times, fouling one ball off, chopping one over the second base bag (that might have been a hit in a game), grounding one to short and hitting a long fly ball to right field. Skole, a lefty, never did make contact.
I talked to two different Rangers scouts and the first things they brought up were Darvish's two-seam fastball, his splitter and his changeup. It actually appears he throws both (another scout told me he thinks the change is a circle change). But Darvish threw an off-speed pitch that dropped as it got to the plate and it raised the eyebrows of those keeping careful watch. Skole couldn't hit it (I'm not sure many folks would have, either).
Skole said he asked Torrealba if it was a strike and even the catcher didn't know. But they both knew it had a lot of movement and was a good pitch.
So what do scouts think of Darvish after just two days of throwing to hitters (he threw 19 pitches to two different minor league hitters Thursday)? Here are some thoughts from one of them:
I didn't get to see him live before this week and what I've noticed right away is the balance and delivery. Many guys will fall off the mound to one side or the other, but he is on a straight line to home plate. He mechanics look nearly flawless. You can see why he's had so much success. He can repeat that delivery consistently.
I thought he went at it a little harder today than the other day. The velocity was up. I was told he didn't really throw a splitter or a changeup in Japan, but I saw him throw a splitter in his bullpen session and a change and they had movement and good location. He's got a bunch of pitches and I think he's trying to see what may work and what won't.
He's an athlete and you have to like the build on him. He goes about his business.
Rangers minor league pitching coordinator Danny Clark was the coach near the mound as Darvish threw on Field 3 on Saturday. He was most impressed with Darvish's 2-seam fastball (sinker) and how he could move it to both sides of the plate. So was catcher Yorvit Torrealba, who added that Darvish threw a bunch of different pitches between his bullpen session and the 22 pitches to live hitters.
"He has a presence," Clark said. "That's especially true considering all the attention. I thought he was locked in."
It was Torrealba's first time catching Darvish and the two communicated a little before and after the sessions. Torrealba told him he did a good job and was especially complimentary of the sinker.
"He said he wasn't happy with the four-seamer and that it was a little wide," Torrealba said.
Torrealba said he spoke a few Japanese words to Darvish and that the pitcher knew a few Spanish phrases too.
"His English is all right," Torrealba said. "We could understand each other."
Skole said he was also impressed with the curve ball, which came in at about 70 mph, he figured.
"That's going to freeze some people," Skole said.
Up next: Darvish will have a light day Sunday and then throw to hitters again on Monday. This time, though, it will be major league hitters since full squad workouts will get underway tomorrow. BTW, there weren't quite as many cameras hovering around Darvish on Saturday as there were on Thursday. We'll see if they pick back up next week.