Will Venable objects to Yu Darvish

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- It only took one Cactus League start for Texas Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish to create a little rivalry with one of the first major league hitters he faced.

Darvish gave up a leadoff double in the second inning to San Diego Padres outfielder Will Venable, who belted a 2-2 fastball high in the zone in Wednesday's game in Peoria. The ball hit high up on the tall wall in center field. Anywhere else in the park, and it likely would have been a home run.

But when Darvish was asked about it after the game, he said he thought the hit was wind-aided.

"With the dry air in Arizona and the wind blowing out, it carried the ball," Darvish said through an interpreter. "It didn't seem like a ball that was hit that squarely."

Some of the Japanese media said Darvish might have meant that he, meaning Darvish, wasn't squared up to the plate, as they heard him speak the quote in Japanese.

Venable was informed of Darvish's comments after the game and told a throng of media that "maybe his perception of reality isn't right on," then said he had no comment.

But later, in an interview on the "Darren Smith Show" on XX 1090, the Padres' flagship station, Venable had more to say.

"I think the wind saved it from being a home run," Venable said. "I also heard that he didn't think I hit it squarely. If that's the case, I don't think anyone has squared off a ball off of him. That's as well as I could hit a ball, to be honest. I don't know if something was lost in translation there.

"I would have liked to hear a little more humility from the guy. To each his own. He's a confident guy. Of course I didn't square up a ball because he's Yu Darvish."

Darvish ended up throwing two scoreless innings, giving up two hits, both doubles, and striking out three Padres batters. He impressed the San Diego hitters, including Venable, who said Darvish is "definitely a major league pitcher."

Rangers manager Ron Washington was told of Darvish's comments Thursday morning, and said he wants his 25-year-old pitcher to be himself.

"I'd like for Yu to be Yu," Washington said. "If that's Yu and that's how he feels, say it. I'm not going to take that away from him. As far as Venable goes, he said what he felt like he had to say and now we move on."

Washington clearly believes Venable squared up on the ball, saying it was "fortunate that the wall was there."

"He showed some confidence in himself and that's a good thing," Washington said about Darvish.

Darvish's next start is March 13 in Goodyear against the Cleveland Indians. He's expected to pitch three innings.