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Rangers set debut for Japanese star

SURPRISE, Ariz. — Yu Darvish faced two Rangers minor-leaguers in a spring training practice session Monday. On March 7, he will face big-league hitters from another team for the first time.

The two-time defending AL champs said Darvish will start against the Padres in Peoria, Ariz. He would likely pitch two innings.

The Rangers signed the right-hander, 25, to a six-year, $56 million contract on Jan. 18. With the posting money, the Rangers paid more than $107 million for the star of seven seasons in Japan.

Darvish threw 34 pitches on Monday to Mike Bianucci and Vince DiFazio, who have not played above Double A. Bianucci said the two talked about going deep off Darvish in batting practice, but it did not happen.

"It would have been great to do it, but a guy with a movement like that you're just trying to put a good swing on it, especially with him," Bianucci said.

VARITEK TO RETIRE: Longtime Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek, 39, will retire after a 15-year career, the Boston Globe reported. Varitek batted .256 with a .341 on-base percentage and a .435 slugging percentage in 1,546 games and was a three-time All-Star.

EX-RAY CALLS IT QUITS: Right-hander Danys Baez, the Cuban defector who had 71 saves in two seasons with the Rays, retired after a 10-year career. Baez, 34, was an All-Star in 2005 when he saved 41 games for Tampa Bay, third-most in club history.

DODGERS SAGA: Seven groups of bidders for the Dodgers, including Magic Johnson and Stan Kroenke, will interview with baseball's ownership committee in the next step toward selling the bankrupt team by the end of April.

RELIEVER PONDERS RETIREMENT: His season ended by a torn elbow ligament, Twins right-hander Joel Zumaya is trying to decide whether his career is finished as well. "Right now, my perspective is probably not," Zumaya, 27, said. "I know I'm pretty young, but I'm probably going to go on six surgeries if I go get another one."

ZIMMERMAN DEAL: Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman's new contract with the Nationals includes a five-year, $10 million personal services clause for when he finishes playing.

OBITUARY: Pro scout and one-time Mariners director of player development Frank Mattox died at his home in Peoria, Ill. He was 49.

ASTROS: Owner Jim Crane said the team is "leaning heavily" toward new uniforms for next season, its first in the AL.

A'S: Third baseman Scott Sizemore will miss the season with a torn ligament in his left knee.

CARDINALS: Outfielder Allen Craig ran for the first time since having screws inserted into his right kneecap in November. He's unlikely to be ready by opening day.

REDS: Left-handed setup man Sean Marshall agreed to a new contract that adds $16.5 million over three seasons through 2015. Marshall, 29, was guaranteed $3.1 million this season.

ROYALS: Catcher Salvador Perez, 21, signed a five-year, $7 million contract with club options through 2019.

Rangers set debut for Japanese star 02/27/12 [Last modified: Monday, February 27, 2012 9:36pm]
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