Darvish strikes out three in pre-season debut for Cubs

Los Angeles (AFP) –


Yu Darvish displayed control of multiple pitches Saturday in his Major League Baseball pre-season debut, striking out three over two innings for the Chicago Cubs in a 4-3 loss to Milwaukee.

The 33-year-old Japanese right-hander surrendered a leadoff home run before displaying success with a varied set of throws in Mesa, Arizona.

"Fastball, cutter, hard cutter, slider, knuckle-curveball, two-seam (fastball). Yeah, six pitches," said Darvish in a posting on the MLB website.

"Just playing baseball. This is first game, so I have to make sure my routine is right. That's it."

Orlando Arcia smashed a homer off Darvish on the game's opening pitch, but Darvish closed the inning by striking out Avisail Garcia on a 98-mph fastball and Logan Morrison on a knuckle-curveball.

"I've showed my power curve over my nine years here and no one has hit well against that pitch, so I can show it any time I want," Darvish said.

Darvish went 4-4 with a 2.76 earned-run average after last year's MLB All-Star Game break and his fastball impressed with just under four weeks before season openers.

"I feel my spin efficiency is getting better. That's why hitters swing and miss a lot. So I felt really comfortable," Darvish said.

"I was throwing hard last year, but my spin efficiency wasn't good enough. That's why hitters didn't swing and miss that much, especially lefties. But this year, I feel different so I can get more swing-and-misses."