Daniels scouting pitcher Darvish in Japan

Daniels scouting pitcher Darvish in Japan

Daniels scouting pitcher Darvish in Japan
ARLINGTON -- Rangers general manager Jon Daniels has left the country. He is spending time scouting in Japan, and one of the pitchers he is watching is Yu Darvish.

Darvish is a right-hander who can be a free agent and jump to the United States this winter. The Rangers, who were aggressive in their pursuit of Daisuke Matsuzaka in 2006, are expected to be one of the teams interested in Darvish.

Rangers pitcher Colby Lewis faced Darvish during his two years in Japan, and said he thought Darvish can make the jump to the United States.

"He's got great stuff and he keeps the ball in the zone," Lewis said. "When I saw him he was 93-95 [mph], he had four pitches, and he was throwing them for strikes. Successful guys are the ones that do that. He doesn't walk many guys, and he has strikeout stuff."

Darvish, who turns 25 in August, is currently 8-2 with a 1.39 ERA in 10 starts for the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters. Coming into the season, he had a career record of 58-22 with a 1.81 ERA in 98 starts and two relief appearances over four seasons. He had 40 complete games while averaging 6.1 hits, 2.1 walks and 9.2 strikeouts per nine innings.

"Anybody who can throw all their pitches for strikes can pitch in the big leagues," Lewis said. "That's what it takes."

The Rangers have grown to be one of the most aggressive teams in the international free agent market, and they signed reliever Yoshinori Tateyama this offseason. He spent 12 seasons with the Fighters, including four as a teammate of Darvish.