Texas tempers expectations for Yu's first start
Darvish slated to throw two innings or 35 pitches on Wednesday
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Count Rangers manager Ron Washington among those curious to see Yu Darvish take the mound against the Padres on Wednesday in the pitcher's first Cactus League start.
"I'm just not going to put a whole lot into what happens," Washington said. "I just want him to get out there and get into a big league game and get his work done like everyone else is getting their work done and move forward to the next time."
Darvish, who signed a six-year, $60 million deal with Texas in January, is scheduled throw two innings or 35 pitches. He will start again March 13 against the Indians at Goodyear Ballpark.
"I have communicated to him that it is a progression, and he understands that, but you can't control how he is going to feel once he gets on that mound for the first time," Washington said. "The key is that he continues to get better each time he takes the ball and be ready for April."
Darvish has thrown live batting practice several times this spring and pitched a scoreless inning in an intrasquad game Friday, facing Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus, Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre. He retired the side without allowing a hit.
"Over here, you have lineups that can hurt you up and down. Coming from Japan, there was domination because he never had that," Washington said. "He needs to get used to that fact that every time one of those guys step in the box on the Major League level that they can hurt you. Make your pitches and you can get anybody out. It doesn't matter who it is. If you don't make your pitches, they will make you pay for it."
New strategy serves Harrison well in first start
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rangers starter Matt Harrison knows what opposing hitters think about him, and he wants to throw a wrinkle in their plans against him.
The left-hander will start by throwing inside to right-handed hitters more often this season.
"I'd like to establish that side of the plate more," Harrison said. "It's a new year and guys are going to watch video of what I did last year and that's what they are going to base their scouting report on, so I want to be able to establish the other side of the plate and keep them off balance."
In Tuesday's 16-3 victory, Harrison gave up one hit -- a double to D-backs center fielder Chris Young -- and hit a batter, left-handed-hitting catcher Miguel Montero, in two scoreless innings in the club's victory against the D-backs at Salt River Fields.
Harrison, who faced eight hitters in the game, retired the side in order in the second inning of the 22-pitch outing.
"He was very efficient," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He came in and pounded the strike zone. He got it done."
Rangers want Martin to soak up spring lessons
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- If all goes according to plan, Rangers outfielder Leonys Martin will start the season in the Minor Leagues.
"If my guys stay healthy, [Martin] will get a whole year in the Minor Leagues," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "If something happens to my guys and he's doing well ... but my intention is for my guys to be healthy. It's important that they stay healthy."
Martin, who signed a five-year, $15.5 million deal with the Rangers last May, hit .348 with nine doubles, two triples and four home runs in 29 games for Double-A Frisco and .263 in 40 games for Triple-A Round Rock last season.
He was believed to be competing for playing time in center field in the big leagues against Julio Borbon and Craig Gentry. Washington said Josh Hamilton will also see action in center field during the upcoming season.
"I hope [Martin] learns how the game is supposed to be played by watching Hamilton and the Cruzes and the Murphys and Borbons, guys who have been there and done that," Washington said. "It's more about learning how to be a pro than what he has to offer talent-wise."
Martin, ranks No. 88 on MLB.com's Top 100 prospects list and No. 4 on the Rangers' list, made his big league debut on Sept. 2 and hit .375 with a double in eight games in center field. He played twice a week for the Surprise Saguaros in the Arizona Fall League, finishing with a .290 batting average in eight games.
"We just got to keep getting him in as much as I possibly can and let him show us," Washington said. "He's a talented kid and he's going to get a chance to play. ... We've never seen him under playing conditions. Yes, he was with us last year, but all he did was practice."
Martin, who went 1-for-2 with a homer in the Rangers' 16-3 victory over the D-backs on Tuesday, said he is ready for the challenge.
"I've been working a lot on everything, especially, baserunning and stealing bases," he said. "I'm just trying to get better at my game. I'm learning every day. The decision is up to them, and I will do whatever they decide."
Prospect Perez fine-tunes two-seam fastball
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rangers pitching prospect Martin Perez has added a two-seam fastball to his repertoire and said he relied heavily on the pitch during his two-inning outing in Monday's intrasquad game.
Expect Perez, ranked No. 29 on MLB.com's Top 100 prospects list and No. 2 on the Rangers' list, to throw his share of two-seamers when he starts Friday against the Dodgers. He also throws a four-seam fastball, a curveball, and a changeup.
"I'm working on being more consistent with [the two-seamer] and my other pitches," Perez, 20, said. "I still need work, but it is coming along. I need outs. I don't need strikeouts."
The left-hander said he began experimenting with the pitch last season and started throwing it in earnest in January during the club's mini-camp at the team complex in the Dominican Republic.
"He's got good stuff and he's going to get his opportunities to pitch," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "This is first time I have seen him, and I like what I see. He has a tremendous delivery and he's got good stuff. It's just a matter of him continuing to learn the craft."
Perez started last season at Double-A Frisco and went 4-2 with a 3.16 ERA in 17 games (16 starts) for the RoughRiders. He struck out 83 in 88 1/3 innings.
"The level is so much higher here in the big leagues," Perez said. "In the Minor Leagues, you get used to the level and the hitters. You know what they can do. It's different here. The hitters are better. There is also some pressure to perform now."
The young Venezuelan didn't fare nearly as well after his promotion to Triple-A last season, going 4-4 with a 6.43 ERA in 10 starts at Round Rock. He struck out 37 and walked 20 in 49 innings.
"Triple-A was a challenge at first," he said. "You have to use your head and start thinking about what the hitters are thinking. It's about using your intellect and getting used to the caliber of hitters. I had a rough start but I feel like I was getting more comfortable there."
Rangers catcher Mike Napoli slid into second base trying to break up a double play in the second inning Tuesday, marking the first time he has slid in a game since injuring his left ankle sliding into second base in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series. "I'm glad I got that out of the way," Napoli said. "It was fine."
The Rangers have scheduled a "B" game Thursday against the White Sox in Surprise, Ariz.
Outfielder Brad Hawpe, who has been slowed by a sore right hamstring, ran on the field on Tuesday.
Left-hander Joe Beimel (elbow stiffness) is scheduled to pitch in Thursday's game against the White Sox.
Yu Darvish's second scheduled start, on March 13 vs. the Indians in Goodyear, Ariz., will be broadcast live on MLB Network in the Texas market with the Sports Time Ohio feed. The game audio will also be available live on www.texasrangers.com via an exclusive free webcast. The webcast scheduled for March 14 has been canceled.
FOX Sports Southwest will show an extensive highlights package of Darvish's Cactus League debut Wednesday in between games of its Pac-12 men's college basketball tournament coverage at approximately 4 p.m. CT. The network made arrangements with NHK to use the Japanese television broadcaster's feed of the game.