We usually don’t pay a lot of attention to these early intrasquad games, but the buzz surrounding Yu Darvish makes him a notable exception. In an outing which was broadcast back to Japan, the high-priced right-hander faced the Rangers’ A squad yesterday in front of a sizable crowd in Surprise, Arizona.
T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com notes that Darvish topped out at 96 mph with his fastball and threw 11 out of 21 pitches for strikes. He got Ian Kinsler to fly out to left field, struck out Elvis Andrus looking, walked Josh Hamilton on five pitches and got Adrian Beltre to ground out to second base.
Darvish was behind in the count most of the time and told reporters through his interpreter Joe Furukawa that he still has some work to do.
“I was very grateful, especially facing the top hitters,” Darvish said. “I enjoyed that. But I wasn’t quite happy with my mechanics.”
“There are just some things I want to continue to polish,” Darvish said. “The quality of my fastball is not close.”
Darvish’s new teammates were impressed after facing him, as Hamilton said “his ball moves tremendously” and Kinsler added that “I’m glad he’s on our team.”
Darvish is slated to two two innings and 35-40 pitches when he makes his Cactus League debut Wednesday against the Padres.
The Braves have signed former football player and current outfielder Sanders Commings, an Augusta, Georgia native, to a minor league contract, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports.
Commings, 26, was a defensive back who played for the University of Georgia before being selected by the Chiefs in the fifth round of the 2013 draft. He appeared in two games in the 2013 season.
Commings also played baseball for Westside High School and was selected by the Diamondbacks in the 37th round of the 2008 draft. He chose to attend the University of Georgia instead. When football didn’t pan out, Commings started training with Jerry Hairston, Jr. Hairston said he was “blown away” when he saw Commings hit for the first time.
Obviously, Commings’ path to success as a professional baseball player will be long, but it’s a no-risk flier for the Braves. The club has past experience with football players, including Deion Sanders and Brian Jordan.
The next task for the Braves will be to acquire Ryan Goins from the Blue Jays. That way, players will look at the lineup card each day to see if it’s Commings or Goins.
On Thursday afternoon, Rays pitcher Chris Archer asked his Twitter followers, “Lots swirling around what needs to be changed about the game of baseball. What do y’all want to see changed, if anything, & why?”
Tigers ace Justin Verlander responded:
To that, Archer said:
For what it’s worth, Verlander hasn’t been much of a hitter. In 47 career plate appearances, he has three singles and no extra-base hits. And if the AL did get rid of the DH rule, the Tigers would have nowhere to put Victor Martinez. Verlander, though, would have an easier time pitching to opposing pitchers rather than their DH’s.