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Father Time not yet coming for Padres right-hander Yu Darvish

Jeff Sanders, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in Baseball

PEORIA, Ariz. — Including variations of variations, Yu Darvish has about a dozen pitches in his back pocket. Maybe more.

He dissects mound work like a biologist. His 6-foot-5 frame is as trim as it was upon jumping across the Pacific as a 25-year-old, all of it part of a carefully manicured plan that dictates Darvish's every move.

These are reasons the Padres believed he'd be able to — when the time comes — redefine himself as a pitcher as he aged into the latter stages of the six-year, $108 million contract that will have Darvish pitching until he's 42.

He's not there yet.

"Velocity-wise, I feel pretty much in the same spot, as well as my spin, too," the 37-year-old Darvish said through interpreter Shingo Horie. "I like where I am with them as well. I know we talk about age, but I don't feel that bringing any effect into my pitches."

The Padres can only hope. With Blake Snell still dangling in free agency and Seth Lugo and Michael Wacha landing in Kansas City, a return to form for both Darvish and Joe Musgrove is critical for the 2024 season.

 

Darvish has looked strong early in Cactus League action. He struck out three over two scoreless innings in his first start of the spring and was mostly sharp on Sunday in striking out six over 3 1/3 innings of two-run ball against the Mariners.

Cade Marlowe's long ball off a hanging pitch came toward the end of Darvish's 20-pitch second inning. Darvish opened the start with eight straight strikes, striking out the side in the first, added another strikeout in a 10-pitch third and struck out the only batter he faced in the fourth. The stats serve as calming data points following a year in which the Padres committed yet another nine-figure contract for the latter stages of a player's career.

Infielders Manny Machado and Xander Bogaerts could each have many, many years before Father Time knocks on their door.

Darvish's 2023, however, raised immediate questions.

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©2024 The San Diego Union-Tribune. Visit sandiegouniontribune.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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