Luis Martinez, who figures to be the first line of defense should Mike Napoli or Yorvit Torreabla suffered an injury, had the good fortune of catching Yu Darvish's first bullpen session in a Rangers uniform Tuesday at the Surprise Recreation Campus. Martinez also had the not-so-good fortune of having to speak to the assembled media -- roughly 30 from Japan and four from Texas.
Martinez said that the right-hander kept the ball down for most of the 30 pitches. Martinez was impressed with Darvish's two-seam fastball, cut fastball and split-fingered fastball. Martinez estimated that Darvish threw at 70 to 80 percent of full strength, but pumped the last couple pitches at around 92 or 93 mph.
Darvish also apologized when he missed his spots.
"I was telling him, "It's OK. You're just warming up. It's your first bullpen,' " Martinez said. "He threw sliders, curveballs, changeups, splits. He threw 30, and within those 30, there were about 10 different pitches.
"He's unique in his own way. He's a great talent."
Martinez, who debuted last year with San Diego, said that the best pitchers he has caught are Greg Maddux, Heath Bell, and, now, Darvish.
"It was a bit overwhelming from what he did in Japan and all the background he had," Martinez said. "I was actually excited and happy to catch him."
-- Jeff Wilson