HOUSTON -- Rangers general manager Jon Daniels' trip to Japan was as much about goodwill as it was scouting specific players. Daniels returned from his five-day visit to Japan on Monday.
"It was my first time there," Daniels said. "I had never been there before. From a tourist standpoint, it was really nice. Obviously, we have spent a lot of money ... a lot of time and resources in building up our operations. Obviously, I saw a couple of players, but I really wanted to get a feel for the baseball culture and our own operation."
There is no secret that Daniels spent one night watching Yu Darvish pitch for the Nippon Ham Fighters. Darvish is one of the premier pitchers in Japan and could be posted by the Fighters this offseason, allowing him to jump to the United States.
The Rangers are expected to be interested. They submitted a competitive bid on Daisuke Matsuzaka a few years ago. But Daniels didn't need to fly halfway around the world to know that Darvish is a premier pitcher.
Success in Japan comes at many levels. The Rangers did extremely well in signing Colby Lewis two years ago, and Yoshinori Tateyama is working his way into becoming a productive member of the Rangers' bullpen. The team looks at all possibilities.
"This trip wasn't about one player," Daniels said. "This was more looking at our operations. It was a quick trip. I didn't get to meet as many people as I would like. But the timing was good, after the Draft and before things heat up. My phone worked and my e-mail worked, so I was able to stay connected."