Rangers Experiencing 'Darvish Effect'

SURPRISE, Ariz. — Rangers spring training this year was all about Yu Darvish in the early going, especially to the 100-plus members of the Japanese media who gathered in Surprise to cover Japan's biggest star.

As a few Rangers players in big league camp and some of the minor leaguers learned, the Darvish Effect can sweep up anyone standing in its path and put them in the media spotlight.

Take righthander Justin Miller, for instance. The media quickly discovered that his locker was next to Darvish's, and that made him a target for interviews with newspaper reporters and TV networks.

Miller, a 16th-round pick in 2008 from Fresno State, has never pitched above Double-A.

"I've just go to roll with it and take all the experience in," Miller said. "I guess he's like a rock star over there."

Luis Martinez was a big name for a day after catching Darvish's first bullpen session on Feb. 21, the day he reported to camp. Martinez, who made his big league debut with the Padres last season, is likely to open the season in Triple-A Round Rock.
He called the opportunity to catch Darvish "an honor," and the media in Japan fell in love.

"It was a bit overwhelming from what he did in Japan and all the background he had," Martinez said. "I was actually excited and happy to catch him. There were about 10 different pitches. He's a great talent."

Outfielder Ryan Strausborger and shortstop Jurickson Profar were the first batters to face Darvish this spring during live batting practice. And, like the others, their names are now well-known in Japan.

"It'll be a good story to carry with me the rest of my life, that's for sure," Strausborger said.


• The Rangers have flirted with the idea of allowing lefthander Martin Perez to break camp with them as a reliever. The top pitching prospect was slated for Triple-A as a starter, but every lefty in camp is getting a serious look. "That would be a huge discussion," manager Ron Washington said. "This kid is still growing, but if the consensus agrees that's the best fit in our bullpen, then that'll be it."

• Among the minor league players who reported early to camp were Nomar Mazara and Ronald Guzman, who signed for a combined $8.5 million last summer out of the Dominican Republic as 16-year-olds. Each saw at-bats in the Rangers' intrasquad games March 1-2 as late-game substitutions.