SURPRISE, ARIZONA – Texas Rangers rookie Yu Darvish threw 35 pitches of live batting practice Wednesday, showing his full array of fastballs, off-speed and breaking pitches to two minor league hitters.
Mike Napoli, who caught for Darvish’s first batting practice on Feb. 23 as well as Wednesday’s session, counted a total of seven different pitches — more than any pitcher he has worked with in six years of pro ball.
“I was impressed,” Napoli said. “He spins the ball really well. His fastball and off-speed pitches have tight rotation. The ball came out of his hand pretty good today.
“He was throwing the sinker and it was definitely moving around, and he threw a couple good splits where the bottom just dropped out of it. He knows what he’s doing with the ball.”
The 25-year-old Darvish is scheduled to pitch in the third inning of the team’s intrasquad game on Friday.
Reliever Koji Uehara, Darvish’s teammate, has also made a good impression in the opening weeks of spring training. Uehara was acquired from the Baltimore Orioles just prior to the July 31 trade deadline last season, but struggled in postseason play with the Rangers.
“Maybe he had a little bit of arm fatigue when we got him,” manager Ron Washington was quoted as saying in the Dallas Morning News’s electronic edition.
“He’s looked good (in camp) and I’ve finally gotten to watch the splitter from behind. No wonder guys can’t hit it.”
In regular-season play, left-handed batters hit just .130 against Uehara last year.
Although the Rangers had sought to trade Uehara during the offseason, the club’s general manager Jon Daniels recently affirmed that no deals involving the 36-year-old righty are in the works.
Howard sidelined again
Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard missed workouts again on Wednesday, after a procedure Monday to remove an infection around his surgically repaired Achilles tendon.
Howard, who had the original surgery in October, took part in workouts when camp opened, but stopped after batting practice Saturday. He’s been held out of all baseball activities since, and left the team on Monday to see Dr. Mark Myerson in Baltimore.