- Associated Press - Friday, January 20, 2012

ARLINGTON, Texas — Yu Darvish leaned over and looked at his name and the No. 11 on the back of his Texas Rangers jersey. Then he looked up and smiled.

“Excited, that’s all I feel right now,” Darvish said through a translator. “Just excited going forward.”

Japan’s best pitcher is now officially a member of the two-time defending American League champions, with his formal introduction Friday night in Texas coming two days after the right-hander agreed to a six-year contract that guarantees him $56 million.

The 25-year-old Darvish, who exceled in Japan’s Pacific League the past seven seasons, said he wasn’t prepared to go into specifics about the several different reasons why he decided to make the move to United States now.

But he said he felt no pressure and planned to keep an open mind and be relaxed — with his new team and in a new country.

“I have no worries,” he said. “What I’m looking forward to is a different environment, a different league and different hitters. I’m looking forward to it full of excitement.”

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.

The Rangers spent more than two years scouting Darvish and getting to know him personally before committing more than $107 million to get him. On top of his contract, they had to pay a record $51,703,411 posting bid to the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, Darvish’s team in Japan.

Rangers pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to spring training in Arizona on Feb. 22, and Darvish said he was planning to immediately return home to Japan.

Darvish said he would continue with his offseason workouts there and hold another news conference to express his feelings to fans in Japan.

Joe Furukawa, a Rangers scout in the Pacific Rim and one of their primary contacts with Darvish over the last couple of years, will spend this season with the pitcher to help his transition to the major leagues and the United States. Furukawa sat to his right on Friday night and served as the translator during the bilingual news conference.

Darvish smiled often during the question-and-answer session, though he said he wasn’t prepared yet to say anything in English.

The press conference was broadcast live in Darvish’s homeland, where it was Saturday morning. It was held in a much bigger room that is part of the team’s Hall of Fame area at Rangers Ballpark, instead of the usual interview room down the hall from the clubhouse.

Among those sitting in the front row were Ray Davis and Bob Simpson, the oil-and-gas billionaires who are co-chairmen of the Rangers ownership group, and slugger Josh Hamilton. Simpson smiled when he walked in and saw the room full of international media.

“We’ve had a lot of big moments on the field the last couple of years, in October and the things we’ve accomplished,” general manager Jon Daniels said while introducing Darvish. “There haven’t been many bigger off-the-field moments than what brings us here.”

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