Yu Darvish ready for big league debut
"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.
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