ARLINGTON, Texas -- Ask anyone in the Rangers front office and they'll tell you that Joe Furukawa was instrumental in bringing Yu Darvish to Texas.
He got to know Darvish and his family, scouting him a lot and came away convinced that Darvish could be a top-of-the-rotation starter in the big leagues.
"To me, he’s not a Japanese pitcher -- he's half-Japanese," said Furukawa, referencing that his mother is from Japan, but his father is from Iran. "He has a foreign body (6-foot-5, 220 pounds) and the pitching process of a Japanese pitcher. That's a killer combo. He's got a great pitcher's body and has learned the game well."
Furukawa's job now is to help Darvish with the adjustment to life in the United States and in the majors. He's agreed to be Darvish's translator, though Darvish has spelled out some conditions. The 25-year-old Japanese pitcher doesn't want Furukawa to be around for stretching or in the clubhouse as he tries to learn the language and spend time with his teammates. In other words: Darvish wants to try to do as much as he can on his own.
"That’s great to hear," Furukawa said. "If he tells me he doesn't need me, that’s perfect. I'll help him learn English. As things go on, I think he'll learn to recall more and eventually speak it. He's telling me it's going to happen, it's just a matter of time."
Darvish was asked about the language barrier during his introductory news conference on Friday night at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
"The hearing part, I think I’m OK," Darvish said. "The speaking part may take some time. But as time goes by, I think I'll be able to speak and understand better."