Feb 242012

Friday Morning KnuckleballsYu Darvish threw the most publicized 19 pitches of Spring Training yesterday in front of over 100 media members.  Napoli caught the session, and minor league infielders Ryan Strausborger and Jurickson Profar stood in as hitters.

  • Profar was impressed with Yu’s command, ”He had good command of all of his pitches … sinker, four-seam fastball, slider and cutter.”
  • Napoli downplayed the session, ”Just another BP.  He had good command and threw all of his pitches. He was only going 80 percent. It was not like game speed but the ball was coming out of his hand pretty good.”
  • Darvish will throw BP everyday until March 2nd, when he will pitch against his teammates in a intrasquad game.
  • Colby Lewis talked about one of the keys to Darvish’s success in 2012, ”The key for him will be not to do too much but just to play baseball.  That’s what he’s done for the last seven years in Japan. He just needs to go out, have fun and not put too much pressure on himself. He has been great over there and I don’t expect any less here. I don’t see him doing anything different: take the ball 30-35 times and have fun doing it.”
  • While focus has never been mentioned as a concern, this quote from Darvish just made me feel good inside, ”Wearing that uniform makes me feel a part of the team.  Now, I have a responsibility to take care of.”

Friday Morning KnuckleballsIn our Spring Training Special podcast, Jasen and I covered the key questions facing the Rangers in Spring Training.  One that we discussed extensively prior to the podcast was the situation at catcher.  Will Napoli be the full-time catcher, with Torrealba providing relief when needed and filling in as a right-handed pinch hitter, or would it look more like it did in 2011?  A lot would depend on Moreland’s performance and the health of all mentioned players and Michael Young.

  • Manager Ron Washington has essentially called the catcher role an open competition and intends to get the most out of both players, saying ”I’m not going by the playoffs.  Both will get playing time. I’m going to do my best to utilize both of my catchers.”
    Wash went on to say, “We’re fortunate to have two quality catchers.  I’m going to make sure I get the most out of them. I plan on using Napoli the same as last year. He may get more time behind the plate, but he will also play first base and also DH.”
  • Torrealba sounds like he’s ready to give way, ”Obviously, it’s the first day and I haven’t talked to the skipper.  I guess Napoli will play more than last year. He deserves it. I haven’t talked to the skipper so I don’t know my situation. I guess Napoli will be the starting catcher and hopefully I will get enough starts and enough at-bats.”
    Torrealba added “It worked out really good last year.  We both had good years. Well, I had a good year and he had an unbelievable year.”

Quick hits:

  • Friday Morning KnuckleballsRoy Oswalt, who was expected to announce a decision on where he would pitch in 2012 yesterday, has decided to wait it out.  Oswalt is even fine with waiting until after the season starts if that will get him into a situation which he prefers.  This is HUGE for the Rangers, as it’s well known that Oswalt prefers the Rangers and his waiting essentially provides insurance against injury to any of the existing rotation pitchers.
  • Richard Durrett (ESPNDallas) wrote a good column on the confidence that Yu’s father has in his son.
  • Lyle Spencer (MLB.com) wrote the column “Thanks to Yu, Rich Rangers have gotten Richer”, and writes “Back to first impressions. With sound mechanics, electric stuff and a star-driven support staff any young Texas pitcher should feel blessed to have, Darvish figures to fulfill the six years on his $60 million contract in a highly satisfying manner for everyone concerned.”
  • Josh Hamilton arrived at camp and worked out yesterday, taking BP and then taking some time to sign autographs for fans.
  • Defense at the pitcher position is going to be a big focus in Spring this year.  Manager Ron Washing says ”There is going to be a lot of attention on PFP (Pitchers Fielding Practice) and I want it done right.  That was the message. If we do it right, we won’t be on the field long. If we don’t do it right, we’ll be out there a long time.”
  • Newcomber Brad Hawpe will be work at first base this Spring says Washington, ”If he’s healthy enough to play the outfield, he has that on his resume.  But we’re going to work him at first base in Spring Training. If we get the Brad Hawpe that everybody remembers, we’ll find somewhere to put him.”
  • Napoli was happy with how his ankle felt yesterday with full gear on and catching BP, saying ”It felt good. I didn’t know how it would feel in spikes and squatting down. But I was able to get down and move from side to side.”
  • Derek Holland wants to make sure that the media doesn’t forget about the other talented players on this Rangers squad (besides Yu), saying ”It seems like people forget about rest of the team.  We’ve got a lot of other guys talented enough out there to be talking about as well. Yu is a good pitcher. Don’t take that away from him, but don’t forget about the rest of the guys we got on this squad.”

Have a good weekend!  If you aren’t already, follow us on Twitter (@baseballdo) and “like” us on Facebook (Baseball Do Facebook page).  Stay tuned for next week’s podcast – hoping to bring on a guest host to provide another view.

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