What makes Darvish, Weaver special

Updated: April 7, 2013, 10:45 AM ET
By Buster Olney

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The first time A.J. Pierzynski saw Yu Darvish gesture at him, he had no idea what the pitcher was trying to convey. Was it a thought? Encouragement? What?

Darvish had turned to Pierzynski from afar and motioned to him with both hands, taking his palms from his chest outward, toward his catcher, as if he were handing him a tray of food.

So Pierzynski asked him what he meant, and Darvish explained: I will follow you on pitch selection; you tell me what you'd like, and I will throw that. Darvish can throw about 3,000 different pitches, and sometimes he has something specific in mind, but sometimes he will gesture like that to Pierzynski, and the catcher will feel very good about the chances of Darvish executing that pitch.

Because Darvish -- like Jered Weaver, the guy he will go against tonight (8 ET) on "Sunday Night Baseball" -- is what is known in the business as a feel pitcher. He has an unusual feel for the baseball, the ability to manipulate its trajectory and its spin, with his arm and his fingertips. He'll throw each of his pitches at different speeds. During his near-perfect game against the Astros five days ago, Darvish came out of the bullpen without much command on a couple of his pitches, so Pierzynski just junked those and worked off  the rest of the menu, relying instead on the cutters.