Nolan Ryan eager to watch Yu Darvish
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Texas Rangers CEO and Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan joked that the gaggle of media members -- about 75 or so -- that packed into a tent set up near the Rangers' clubhouse on Wednesday afternoon set a new record for recording devices.
It wouldn't be surprising, though, if the record is broken Thursday when Yu Darvish speaks for the first time from spring training.
"I think it's neat and exciting that he has the following that he does and so many people are excited about it," Ryan said.
All of the attention is part of the new realm the Rangers have entered by signing Darvish, whose every move is chronicled and filmed to an international audience. And those cameras Wednesday were pointed at Ryan to get his opinion of the Rangers' newest starting pitcher.
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Ryan didn't want to put added pressure on Darvish, but he admitted that at 25 years old, Darvish is more polished than Ryan was at that age.
"When I look at my career and his career and where I was at 25 years old, there's a substantial difference," Ryans said. "I had a control problem. I was very durable, but I didn't have the feel for the baseball or my delivery as he does with his. That's one of the unique things about him.
"At 25, he's still a very young pitcher and he has great delivery and control of his delivery and a good feel for the baseball. When I say that, what I mean is that he can throw different pitches, he can locate his pitches. For a 25-year-old, that's quite an accomplishment."
Ryan said he's eager to see Darvish, who will take the mound again on Thursday and throw to live hitters for the first time. Darvish, like the rest of the healthy Rangers pitchers, is scheduled to toss a five-minute bullpen session and then pitch to batters for five minutes as part of the first official day of workouts for pitchers and catchers. It will give him a quick taste of big league hitters just as spring training begins.
On Wednesday, Darvish threw off flat ground -- both left-handed and right-handed, something he does to help his balance -- and did some conditioning drills. He threw a bullpen session on Tuesday, his first day in camp.
"We're all excited about seeing him throw, watching him work, and so I think watching video on him I have an expectation of what he's going to be like, so I don't think there's going to be much difference of the videos I've seen of him," Ryan said. "But seeing his delivery, watching him from different angles and that kind of stuff, obviously, everybody that's been involved in this process is anxious to see that."
Ryan spoke briefly with Darvish on Wednesday and Darvish mentioned that he worked out at USC while he was in Los Angeles for about a week before driving to Surprise a few days ago. Ryan said the tendency for players with big contracts is to put too much pressure on themselves and Ryan doesn't want Darvish doing that. He said the club understands that the 25-year-old is making some big adjustments jumping to the majors this season.
"He's going to have to learn the hitters; that's something he won't be able to do until he pitches to them and gets a feel for them. There will be an adjustment to the baseball some, pitching on a five-day rotation where he's been on a six-day rotation over there. We'll obviously try to help him any way we can."
Ryan added that he'll have to get used to the cultural differences and develop a comfort level with his teammates and his surroundings, not to mention learning a new language.
"But I think from being around him, I get a feel that those things he'll handle well," Ryan said. "I think that's his type of personality and the way he's been raised."
Darvish has a copy of the book "Nolan Ryan's Pitcher's Bible" and the Hall of Famer hopes he can establish a personal bond with Darvish.
"My advice to him would be just to come in and not try to do more than you're capable of doing," Ryan said. "Just enjoy the spring and enjoy the new situation and challenges that he has and if he has any concerns or questions, we're here to support him. I'd like to develop a relationship with him where he'd feel comfortable if he did have something on his mind or was bothering him that he could feel comfortable enough to come visit with me about it."
Richard Durrett covers the Rangers for ESPNDallas.com.
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