Darvish learning to trust his stuff

Through two spring training starts, right-hander Yu Darvish has flashed excellent stuff with a couple of mixed results. TheSportsXChange reports that Darvish is still learning how to use his stuff against major league hitters.

Right-hander Yu Darvish has plenty of adjustments to make as he transitions to Major League Baseball.

The one that seems to be giving him the biggest fit of trouble this spring is how much he should respect major league hitters.

Right now, it might be too much.

Darvish is still getting used to using the fastball as his No. 1 pitch. Though he has enough velocity, at 92-to-95 mph, to match up with U.S. hitters, he's still going to get hit hard occasionally.

In his first start, he gave up a 410-foot double off the wall in center field to Will Venable of San Diego. Since then, he's gotten timid with the fastball, trying to work the corners without much success.

In his second start, Darvish allowed four walks and was constantly behind Cleveland hitters when he tried to lead with the fastball. It wasn't until after he moved to his off-speed and breaking stuff that he was able to get some outs.

With manager Ron Washington about to yank him before the third inning of his scheduled three-inning outing was complete, Darvish got a key double play on a slider.

"He was kind of getting frustrated," catcher Yorvit Torrealba said. "His fastball command wasn't there. He really wanted to keep throwing it. But I think when we see that, we need to mix it up. His secondary pitches are very good. He can throw them in any count, any situation."

Said Darvish, through an interpreter: "There might come a time during the season where I'm going to have an outing like this where I don't have my command and feel of my pitches. On those days, I've got to mix my pitches, use all my different pitches and just battle through it. I think I did that and that made today a positive step."

But other observers have noticed the nibbling.

"I think the big thing he's got to get over right away, is don't give these hitters too much credit over here," said Larry Bowa, the former shortstop and manager who is an MLB Network analyst.

"He pitched in Japan, went right at hitters because there weren't a lot of home run hitters, guys that could do a lot of damage. Here, he's got to trust his stuff. He's got to understand the greatest hitters in baseball make seven out of 10 outs when they get up there. So, he's giving those hitters in Spring Training a little too much credit. He's trying to nibble too much."

Rangers Notes & Quotes

  • C/DH Mike Napoli returned to the lineup last Friday after missing a week because of groin tightness. Napoli took four at-bats and singled in the last one. Napoli said he doesn't anticipate the lost time impacting his offense. He could be back behind the plate this week.

  • OF Craig Gentry might have fallen behind in the center field competition with a sluggish start at the plate and two injuries. After being slowed by a hamstring injury early in camp, he finally got his first start of the spring on March 13, then sprained his left wrist in that game. He still was out as of the weekend.

  • OF David Murphy is making a very strong case to be a starter this season. Murphy, who hit only .215 against left-handerslast year, was 5-for-10 against them through March 16. He also had reached base in all nine of his spring training games and had made two excellent defensive plays in left field. "He's on a mission," interim manager Jackie Moore said.

  • LHP Kelvin De La Cruz, who was purchased from Cleveland on the eve of spring training, was returned to the Indians for the same amount of cash. De La Cruz was wild in his spring appearance.

  • Manager Ron Washington left the team for games last Thursday and Friday following the death of his brother-in-law. He returned to New Orleans with his wife, Gerry, and was expected back for the clubs' games in Las Vegas.

  • By the Numbers: .275 – The batting average for left-handed hitters against LHP Matt Harrison last year. Of the 36 qualifying lefty starters in the majors in 2011, only four allowed lefties a higher average than Harrison -- Jeff Francis (.277), Jason Vargas (.278), Jo-Jo Reyes (.294) and Jaime Garcia (.308).

  • Quote to Note: "I don't think there is any holding back this year, either for me or the Rangers," OF Josh Hamilton on his approach to the season, after which he can become a free agent. The Rangers are torn on whether to play Hamilton predominantly in left or center this season.

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