Washington defends Darvish move

Updated: May 17, 2013, 8:05 PM ET
By Todd Wills | ESPNDallas.com

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington found himself having to defend the 130 pitches he allowed ace Yu Darvish to throw during Thursday night's victory against Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers.

Darvish had already thrown 104 pitches with the Rangers holding a 9-4 lead after six innings. He threw 11 more in the seventh and, with the Rangers leading 10-4, came back out for the eighth to throw 15 more.

Rangers general manager Jon Daniels met with Washington after Thursday's game to discuss Darvish's pitch count on the same day that another starter, Alexi Ogando, was placed on the disabled list with biceps tendinitis.

"I saw the big lead," Washington said. "The lineup they got, it's not soft anywhere in it. Even though we had the lead, I wasn't comfortable. I felt like he needed to get us through the eighth inning to give our bullpen a break, and he certainly did that."

Darvish, who threw 127 pitches two starts ago against Boston, said he wanted to keep going when Washington came up to him after the seventh inning and asked for another inning.

"Wash asked if I could go longer, and he seemed like he wanted me to go longer," Darvish said. "I felt good. And I wanted to help the bullpen."

Washington didn't back down from his decision Friday afternoon. He said he did it because Darvish was his best option for Detroit's lineup, even with a six-run lead, and that their bullpen has been taxed.

"I have nothing to second-guess myself about," Washington said. "I'm not going to do it."

The schedule sets up for the Rangers to give Darvish a day off here and there. They have off days on May 23, May 28 and June 3. That's plenty of chances to get Darvish an extra day of rest.

"I will protect him," Washington said. "When we get off days, I'll move him back. When we have availability we'll use the bullpen to save him innings."

Darvish, who doesn't talk to the media on days after he pitches, was his normal self, Washington said, going through his routine.

"Darvish is the same as always," Washington said. "He doesn't have issues. He did his stretching excercies, massages, accupunture. Whatever else. He's ready to go."

Washington said he has found points in the season to give Darvish innings off, including Saturday in Houston when he was removed after seven innings at 105 pitches with an 8-3 lead. The Rangers held on for an 8-7 victory.

"His work is not overloaded," Washington said. "It's not overloaded. I took him out in the seventh inning one game and he was pissed. I took him out in Houston and he was pissed. And I explained to him that those bullets can be saved. We had a full bullpen then. Last night the only guy that I thought that could get us through that eighth inning was already in the ballgame."

Darvish caught a break for the first out of the eighth inning when a smash to third base by Miguel Cabrera glanced off Adrian Beltre's glove directly in front of shortstop Elvis Andrus, who was able to grab the ball bare-handed and nip the Tigers' third baseman for the first out.

Darvish needed six pitches to strike out Prince Fielder. Victor Martinez fouled off four pitches before he popped out to third base on pitch No. 130 -- a major league high for Darvish -- to end the inning.

It was also a major league high for pitches Thursday. He has thrown 362 pitches in 12 days, an average of 120.7 pitches per start.

"As far as pitch count goes, I think certain nights dictate when you allow a guy to stay out there," Washington said Thursday. "He stayed out there against Boston because it dictated it, and tonight it dictated it. We had an 8-4 lead, I wasn't comfortable. And until we got the 27th out, I wasn't comfortable."

Darvish said in his postgame news conference that pitch counts aren't a huge talking point in Japan.

In 2011, his last season pitching there, Darvish went over the 130-pitch mark seven times in 28 starts. His highest total was 145 pitches. He had back-to-back outings of 136 and 136 pitches and 131 and 131 pitches during the 2011 season.

Is it a big deal?

"Not really," Darvish said. "I averaged 120 pitches per outing [in Japan]. After the 100th pitch tonight, I was fired up and I had a lot of gasoline left."

Washington felt comfortable with his decision.

"Yu Darvish, in my opinion, is a stud," Washington said, "and I don't think we overworked him tonight."

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