Yu Darvish uneven in major league debut

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Yu Darvish’s major league debut didn’t go exactly as planned tonight against the Mariners, but he certainly showed flashes of why the Rangers broke the bank to bring him into the fold.

In what was likely a case of the nerves, Darvish allowed four runs on four hits and three walks in a 42-pitch first inning. The runs scored on a couple of bloop singles and a bases-loaded walk. While he didn’t look long for this one initially, the Japanese right-hander recovered quite nicely from there, allowing one run over his final 4 2/3 innings before being pulled after 110 pitches.

All told, Darvish gave up five runs on eight hits over 5 2/3 innings while striking out five and walking four. He also hit a batter and threw a wild pitch. Not the prettiest line, but he showed good velocity and retired 10 in a row at one point before walking Dustin Ackley with two out in the top of the sixth. He was finally pulled after giving up a single to Ichiro Suzuki, who went 3-for-4 against him on the night.

Fortunately for Darvish, the Rangers’ offense really picked him up tonight, scoring eight runs over the first four innings. He could actually walk away from his first major league start with a victory.

UPDATE: Darvish got the win, as the Rangers topped the Mariners 11-5.

Orioles sign Alcides Escobar

Alcides Escobar
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The Orioles have inked shortstop Alcides Escobar to a minor league contract, MLB.com’s Joe Trezza reported Saturday. The deal comes with an invitation to spring training and will allow Escobar to earn $700,000 in the majors if he breaks camp with the team (via Jon Heyman of MLB Network). The team has yet to formally announce the agreement.

Escobar, 32, completed an eight-year run with the Royals in 2018. No longer the .280-average, 3.0-fWAR player of seasons past, he hit several career lows after batting .231/.279/.313 with four home runs, eight stolen bases (in 10 chances), and a .593 OPS through 531 plate appearances last year. His defensive ratings also took a hit, and FanGraphs pegged him as the fourth-worst shortstop in the majors after he accumulated -12 DRS over the course of the season, only slightly higher than the Orioles/Dodgers’ Manny Machado, Mets’ Amed Rosario, and Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts.

Still, Heyman holds that Escobar is being considered for the starting gig this spring and could yet prove an upgrade over top prospects and infield candidates Richie Martin and Drew Jackson. At the very least, the veteran shortstop figures to stabilize the position given Martin and Jackson’s relative inexperience, as both infielders played to varying results in Double-A Tulsa last year and have yet to break into the majors. Should either player earn consideration for the position in camp, however, Escobar might still work his way onto the Opening Day roster in a utility role as he saw some time at third base, second base, and center field in 2018.