SURPRISE, ARIZONA - Yu Darvish looked as if he would stumble on the mound, yet still managed to unleash a pitch that struck out Drew Robinson of the Rangers.
“I got off-balance,” Darvish said through a translator. “I thought of not throwing it, but I ended up getting a strikeout. I think that was my best pitch of the day.”
The whole day was rather awkward for Darvish, who faced Texas for the first time since signing a six-year, $126 million contract with the Chicago Cubs last month. The four-time AL All-Star spent his entire major league career with the Rangers until getting traded to the Dodgers last summer. He became a free agent after losing Game 7 of the World Series.
Darvish held Texas to three hits, including Juan Centeno’s home run, over six innings. He struck out seven and walked none as the Cubs prevailed 5-1.
Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber homered for the Cubs.
Darvish knew early on in the free agency process he would likely not be returning to Texas. General manager Jon Daniels had dinner with Darvish in December and told him they were not going be bidding for available top-dollar talent.
“It seems like the probability of going back to the Rangers seemed a little bit lower,” Darvish said.
Darvish is 3-0 with a 2.76 ERA in the Cactus League, allowing 10 hits and four runs over 16⅓ innings, while striking out 19 and walking four. He said his slider was working particularly well against his old teammates.
The 31-year-old Darvish missed the 2015 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Joey Gallo singled off Darvish in the first and was thrown out at the plate on a double by Elvis Andrus.
“Not just this game, but throughout this whole spring training there have been some hits, where it was going to lead to a run, but the defense backed me up, so it’s really nice to have them back there,” Darvish said.
Darvish retired 15 of his last 16 batters.
Zunino belts three homers
Mike Zunino hit three homers and collected five RBIs as the Seattle Mariners beat the Milwaukee Brewers 7-4 on Wednesday in Peoria, Arizona, Reuters reported.
Zunino, who has five home runs in Cactus League play, hit a pair of two-run shots and a solo shot. He finished the day 4-for-4.
In other news Wednesday, Washington Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy admitted he doesn’t expect to be ready for Opening Day as he continues to recover from right knee surgery in October.
“It’s reasonable to expect I won’t be in the Opening Day lineup,” Murphy said Wednesday, according to ESPN.