Nolan Ryan 'optimistic' about Yu Darvish

Updated: January 13, 2012, 1:46 PM ET
By Richard Durrett | ESPNDallas.com

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan said he's "optimistic" that his club will sign Yu Darvish before Wednesday afternoon's deadline.

"My expectation is that we'll get something done," said Ryan prior to the Texas Rangers Award Show at the Arlington Convention Center on Thursday night. "It's a process, so during the period that we negotiate with someone, we really don't talk about it. I'm optimistic we'll get something done."

The club and Darvish's representatives are in the middle of an exclusive negotiation period thanks to the Rangers' $52.7 million posting bid. They have until 4 p.m. CT on Wednesday to get a deal done. If they don't, Darvish would return to Japan and the Rangers won't be owed the posting fee.

Ryan spent most of Friday at the owners' meetings in Phoenix, so he said he isn't sure where exactly the negotiations stand, but acknowledged that the nature of negotiations is that they go down to the wire.

Ryan met Darvish during the Japanese pitcher's visit to the Dallas-Fort Worth area earlier this month.

"He was bigger than I thought," Ryan said. "He was built like a pitcher. He looks good. He understands a lot of English and I just liked his attitude about wanting to compete. To me, he represented what I've been led to believe."

Ryan has also watched Darvish on film and said he has a good feel for his breaking ball and command of the fastball.

"His feel for being able to do things with a baseball is real encouraging," Ryan said.

Ryan also watched video of Colby Lewis before the club signed Lewis a few years ago and Ryan believed then that Lewis' stuff would be good enough to get big league hitters out. He feels the same way about Darvish.

Darvish, the son of an Iranian father and a Japanese mother, went 18-6 with a 1.44 ERA last season for the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters. He had 276 strikeouts to lead the Pacific League.

Darvish, who turned pro at 18, pitched in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and was a member of the Japanese team that won the 2009 World Baseball Classic. The right-hander has superb control and throws seven effective pitches.

"I've never seen any film on him, but heard that he's very good," Michael Young, the Rangers' longest-tenured player, said with a smile. "Very good players are always welcome."

Texas has lost its No. 1 pitcher in free agency after each of the last two World Series.

Cliff Lee left after the 2010 season to return to Philadelphia, and left-hander C.J. Wilson agreed to a $77.5 million, five-year contract with the AL West rival Los Angeles Angels last month.

"I think everybody's pretty optimistic that we'll sign Yu Darvish and hopefully he can bring a lot to this team," outfielder David Murphy said. "All I know is what I've seen on TV. ... He looks like he's got electric stuff."

Richard Durrett covers the Rangers for ESPNDallas.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Richard Durrett joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He writes about colleges, the Dallas Stars and the Texas Rangers. Richard spent nine years at The Dallas Morning News covering the Rangers, Stars, colleges, motorsports and high schools.

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