SAPPORO, Japan – Yu Darvish said a desire to become the world’s best pitcher was behind his decision to leave Japan and sign with the Texas Rangers.
“I want to become the kind of pitcher that will make people say ‘Darvish is the No. 1 pitcher in the world,'” Darvish told a news conference Tuesday.
The 25-year-old right-hander last week agreed to a six-year contract with the Rangers guaranteeing him US$56 million.
Darvish had a 93-38 record with a 1.99 ERA in 167 games in the past seven seasons in Japan where he was a two-time MVP of the Pacific League and a five-time all-star.
He led the league in strikeouts three times and ERA twice, and averaged 205 innings pitched over the last five seasons.
More than 10,000 fans attended Tuesday’s event at Sapporo Dome, where Darvish spent his entire professional career playing for the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters.
Early in his career, Darvish said he had no desire to go to Major League Baseball, saying it would be bad for Japanese baseball if all of the top players went overseas.
But after seven seasons in Japan, Darvish said he needed a new challenge.
“I want to feel the thrill of pitching against the world’s best hitters,” Darvish said. “It was becoming harder to stay motivated in Japan.”
There is a lot of excitement in Texas, where fans are hoping Darvish is the missing piece that will help lift the Rangers to their first World Series title.