Gambatte (Do your best), Darrell: Rasner headed for Japan
By Charles Whisnand
Nevada Appeal Sports Editor
Darrell Rasner has found something in Japan that he hasn’t always had throughout his Major League Baseball career: stability.
For the next two years, the 1999 Carson High School graduate knows he should be taking the ball on a regular basis for the Tohuko Rakuten Golden Eagles of Japan’s Pacific League. The New York Yankees sold Rasner’s contract to the Japanese team for $1 million and Rasner said he expects to sign a two-year contract with the Golden Eagles either this week or early next week.
“They contacted my agent (Matt Sosnick) and showed some interest,” said Rasner, a right-handed pitcher. “I need the stability right now for my family. That’s what I needed and that’s what I’m looking for and that’s what they were able to provide.”
Rasner said obviously there’s the potential to return to the big leagues after pitching in Japan for two years, but he didn’t rule out staying in Japan indefinitely.
“Hopefully I’ll like it,” he said. “I may like and want to stay there. There’s just options. I’ll just have to play it by ear and see how everything works out.”
The Japan Leagues run in a similar timeline to the Major Leagues, so Rasner will have to report to Japan for spring training for the 2009 season in February. In Japan, the Central League and Pacific League are the two professional leagues and the champions of each league plays in the Japan Series.
It’s been reported that Rasner wasn’t in the Yankees’ plans for 2009, but Rasner said he’s been used to his status being up in the air over the last few off seasons.
“To be honest with you, I hear that every year. It comes up every year. I don’t know if that necessarily comes from them (the Yankees),” said Rasner about not being in the Yankees’ plans. “But things always seem to work out. I’m glad that they (the Yankees) let me do this so I can get on with my career.”
And Rasner was thankful to Sosnick for putting the deal together.
“Matt did a great job for me,” Rasner said. “I don’t know how the guy does it. He doesn’t sleep much. He just works his butt off. He gets it done for me. I’m very appreciative of how hard he’s worked.”
Rasner is a pitcher who depends on locating his fastball and developed a cut fastball last season, adding another breaking pitch to his arsenal. While Rasner said he believes his style could suit him well in Japan, he added he didn’t expect much of a difference from the big leagues.
“In my opinion, baseball’s baseball,” Rasner said. “You’ve still got to throw strikes and they’ve got to hit the ball. You’ve still got to work ahead (in the count).”
Rasner said he expects the transition to the Japanese culture to be smooth.
“I’m going to have to talk to guys who have played there before and pick their brains a little bit,” he said.
“I’ve heard nothing but good about it,” Rasner also said about playing in Japan. “I’m looking forward to it. I feel it will be a good experience for me and my family. From what I’ve heard I think it will be fine. They go out of their way to make you comfortable. It’s phenomenal how guys are treated.”
But Rasner admitted that he knew “zero” Japanese and joked he’ll likely have to use Rosetta Stone, the company that boasts the ability to teach foreign languages quickly.
“I need to do some cramming,” he said.
Last season Rasner made the third most starts behind Andy Pettitte and Mike Mussina for the Yankees. In 20 starts, Rasner went 5-10 with a 5.40 earned run average and pitched 113 1/3 innings.
“It was an up and down season,” Rasner said. “Overall it was a positive season for me. Numbers-wise it wasn’t that good. I feel good about it. I left everything on the field.”