Rangers tab Darvish to start playoff opener

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Rangers tab Darvish to start playoff opener

From Comcast SportsNet

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Yu Darvish will start the Texas Rangers' first playoff game -- and he finally knows all the details about who and when.

Manager Ron Washington announced Darvish as his pick before the Rangers lost their regular-season finale at Oakland 12-5 on Wednesday to wind up as an AL wild card.

"Of course I'm ready," Darvish said through an interpreter. "If I'm not ready I probably wouldn't be picked. I'm going to approach it like any other start. I'll try to pitch well and give my team a chance to win."

The two-time reigning AL champion Rangers will play in the new one-game, wild-card playoff on Friday at home against the Baltimore Orioles.

"He's finally Yu Darvish," Washington said of the club's prized offseason pickup. "I don't know the date, but it was Boston. He found Yu Darvish then, and he's been Yu Darvish since. He was searching to find what he was capable of doing over here. And I think he realizes now that competing in a relaxed, trusting and believing, that there was something he was searching for all year and he finally found it. Which is what he is when he's at his best, which is what all pitchers are when they're at their best. It's not just those adjectives I've described as Yu Darvish. That's pitchers, period, when they're at their best."

The 26-year-old is 16-9 with a 3.90 ERA in 29 starts and 191 1-3 innings in his first major league season after a stellar career in Japan. The 6-foot-5 right-hander has 221 strikeouts to just 89 walks and was an All-Star.

He won his final four decisions and hasn't lost in six starts since Aug. 17.

Washington met with Darvish after his Aug. 6 start at Boston, a 9-2 loss in which he was tagged for six earned runs and 11 hits in 6 2-3 innings with nine strikeouts and four walks. Darvish has lost only once since, at Toronto on Aug. 17.

"Mainly, it's mental. I'm pitching with more of a strong mind and with confidence," Darvish said. "We had a conversation (in Boston). But we didn't talk in depth about pitching."

Darvish won his first four decisions under the huge hype of his first season in the big leagues. Before being selected an All-Star, the diplomatic pitcher insisted his numbers needed to be on par with the best in the game to earn consideration.

Darvish -- with his rock star status from Japan still ever present at spring training -- arrived at the team's Surprise, Ariz., spring site with his shaggy hair tinted orange and a dark goatee. His every move was monitored for months, and still is.

Darvish signed a 56 million, six-year contract, and the Rangers paid his Japanese club 51.7 million just to acquire him.

"I keep saying it, the guy was under tremendous pressure coming over here, learning everything, making adjustments," Washington said. "It took that point for him to find the adjustments he had to make to become what he always knew he was and we knew he was, and he found it. And that would be no different if it was any other pitcher who's a pretty good pitcher making adjustments."

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Bogdanovic was 'cheering' for trade to go through to join Wizards

Bogdanovic was 'cheering' for trade to go through to join Wizards

Bojan Bogdanovic couldn't control the joy he felt inside the moment he got word that the Wizards were trying to acquire him in a deal to save him from the nine-win Brooklyn Nets.

"It's a big jump for me. I hope I'm going to adjust well and I'm going to start to play well as soon as possible," said Bogdaovic, a 6-8 forward who is in the final year of his three-year deal and will become a restricted free agent this summer.

"I thought I was going to be traded. When I saw that Washington was interested in me I was cheering over there to be traded here because I know how they play right now. They need someone to score off the bench."

Bogadanovic averaged a career-high 14.2 points and shot 35.7% from three-point range with Brooklyn, starting 54 games. Otto Porter starts at his position in Washington.

"It's not going to be a big adjustment for me because also in Europe I started many times from the bench even when I was one of the best players on the team," Bogdanovich said before coming to the NBA in 2014. "Sometimes I like more to start from the bench so I can be more aggressive."

The lineups that coach Scott Brooks can roll out now are much more diverse. If he wants to go to a super-small lineup, he can put John Wall, Bradley Beal, Bogdanovic, Porter and Markieff Morris on the floor. Or he can substitute Kelly Oubre in for his defense and not lose much versatility. Or Jason Smith can take Morris' spot. 

"What we were looking for is some more scoring, a little pop off the bench, and some more three-point shooting and we wanted to add some versatility," president Ernie Grunfeld told CSNmidatlantic.com after the deadline passed. "With Bojan, we get everything."

Wall liked the move for those reasons. 

"It was a cool trade, a good trade," Wall said. "He's not a guy that just needs the ball in hands."

So does Brooks.

"It's a great addition. He's not just a shooter. He can score the ball," Brooks said. "He has great size. He gets to the free-throw line at a decent clip. He makes them."

[RELATED: Wall sees Cousins through emotional trade]

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Report: Former All-Star PG Deron Williams to become free agent

Report: Former All-Star PG Deron Williams to become free agent

The NBA trade deadline has come and gone, but there could be a big name hitting the free agent market very soon. According to Yahoo! Sports, former All-Star point guard Deron Williams is likely to be bought out by the Dallas Mavericks.

Here is the story from Shams Charania:

Williams, 32, is a former All-Star but a guy who is very far removed from his prime. This year he's averaging 13.1 points and 6.9 assists per game on the lowly Mavs. 

Despite all that, Williams is expected to garner interest. David Aldridge of NBA.com says the Cleveland Cavaliers are heavy favorites to sign him.

If he is let go, it's certainly something to watch for the Wizards, who could possibly use a backup guard themselves. At the very least, any improvement for the Cavaliers could affect the rest of the Eastern Conference come playoff time.

[RELATED: Wizards remain active, see future with acquisitions]