Yu Darvish ready for big league debut

Updated: April 9, 2012, 7:59 PM ET
By Buster Olney

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Yu Darvish was ready to walk out on the field to play catch with Derek Holland on Sunday afternoon, before the Rangers' game with the Chicago White Sox, when Holland stopped.

"Hold on," Holland said, turning around and reaching into his locker for a stiff first baseman's mitt. "I'm trying to break this in."

"OK," Darvish said, and he and Holland continued chatting on their way out the field.

Holland is a catching partner to Darvish -- who makes his debut tonight against the Seattle Mariners -- and so he has a good feel for his personality. Holland offered this scouting report:

1. Darvish is quickly picking up English, through lessons he takes and through conversations with teammates. "He'll hear somebody say something, and he'll repeat it," said Holland. "Sometimes, it's a word that's a little more colorful."


2. Darvish's stuff is as good as advertised, Holland says, and maybe even a little better. When pitchers play catch, dozens of feet apart, they use hand gestures to give a heads-up to their partner about what they're about to throw. A flip forward of the hand means a fastball, and drawing the hand backward means a changeup.

Darvish throws so many pitches, Holland has discovered, that the Japanese right-hander must be even more demonstrative to explain what he's throwing next. Turning his hand in a big circle means he's about to throw a big curveball, and a smaller circle means his sharper curve. And then there's the sign for the splitter -- two fingers down, as if he was making the fangs of a cobra -- and the slider, a hard sweep to the left.

"He's got great stuff," Holland said, chuckling.