Meet Yu and his media shadow
Yu Darvish is on stage in the bowels of the ballpark as a battery of cameras lovingly click away, capturing the essence of the pitcher sitting behind a table at a news conference. Clicks will outnumber Darvish’s words 50 to one.
The interview room, down the tunnel from the Rangers clubhouse, is packed. The World Series may have brought more out-of-town press than the horde assembled one game into the new season, but it wasn’t by much. Japanese media outnumber the locals 6-to-1.
Minutes earlier, the cameras were trained on Darvish, late of the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, as he nonchalantly ran with his Rangers teammates in the outfield.
John Blake, the Rangers’ executive vice president with 33 years of major league duty who serves as gatekeeper and master of ceremonies for everything Darvish, called the outdoor scene “incredibly unusual.”
Not for Darvish, who has been a center of such attention since the start of spring training, but certainly for Rangers baseball.
The Rangers have had Japanese pitchers before. There was reliever Akinori Otsuka in 2006-07, and now there are relievers Yoshi Tateyama and Koji Uehara. But Darvish, who will make his major league debut today against the Seattle Mariners, arrived with a $111 million price tag and far loftier expectations.
Blake, the Rangers’ communications boss, estimated there were 100 Japanese media members in Arizona for Darvish’s first spring training workout in February. He estimated there will be 80 assigned to Darvish at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington today.
Ichiro Suzuki, the Mariners’ outfielder in his 12th season, will bring a similar four score of media members.
“There is nothing comparable in American sports,” Blake said. “We have six Japanese radio and television networks, two wire services and 15 newspapers covering us now. If Michael Jordan in his prime went to play in Japan, how much U.S. media would stick with him?”
After a three-game losing streak to start the 2012 season, the Yankees are only too happy to put Florida behind them, and with it Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon’s infuriating infield shifts.
The Yankees did seem psyched out by the Rays’ exaggerated defense. Tampa Bay used three infielders on one side of second base against six of the nine batters in New York’s order Sunday, continuing a weekend-long pattern.
The shifts had little impact on Sunday’s game, but the Yankees clearly were flummoxed during Saturday’s 8-6 loss. Mark Teixeira hit a liner to short right that could have been a two-run single.
Instead, it was caught by the deeply stationed second baseman and turned into a double play. Alex Rodriguez hit a rope up the middle that became the final out of that game because a defender was stationed right behind second base.
“That’s a defense I’ve never seen before,” Nick Swisher said. “I don’t think anybody’s seen that before.”
The Padres placed right-hander Dustin Moseley on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right shoulder, their second starter to be sidelined in less than a week. Tim Stauffer is also on the DL with a strained right elbow. … Blake DeWitt was scratched from the Cubs’ lineup against the Nationals because of back spasms. He was scheduled to start at second base and bat second. Darwin Barney replaced him. … Twins right-hander Liam Hendriks remained hospitalized Sunday with an apparent case of food poisoning. … The Blue Jays have optioned right-hander Joel Carreno to Triple-A Las Vegas after he lost his first major league start. Carreno gave up four runs and six hits in six innings Sunday against the Indians.