Darvish can be best pitcher in world: Hillman

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TOKYO, March 20 (16:45) Kyodo

Nippon Ham Fighters manager Trey Hillman believes that Yu
Darvish possesses the capability to one day be the best pitcher in
the world.

''I think he can be the best in the world,'' Hillman said at the
Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan on Tuesday. ''Eventually he has
an opportunity to bypass a guy like (Boston Red Sox right-hander
Daisuke) Matsuzaka.''

Hillman made the comments when he was asked to give an
assessment of the 20-year-old Darvish's potential and the
right-hander's interest in pitching in the major leagues in the

''He has never one time talked to me about going to the United
States. He seems to be extremely content performing at the highest
level in Japan,'' the manager said.

Darvish, whose father is Iranian and mother Japanese, went 12-5
with a 2.89 ERA in 25 games last season, leading Nippon Ham to its
first Japan Series title in 44 years.

''He understands he's still learning. He works really hard. He
even skipped our trip to New Zealand (to celebrate the victory)
because of some prior commitments and did not want to interrupt his
workout regiment during the offseason,'' Hillman said.

Darvish, Nippon Ham's first-round pick in the amateur draft in
the fall of 2004, struggled to a 5-5 record with a 3.53 ERA in 14
games in his rookie season in 2005, but has caught the attention of
major league scouts after a breakout season in his second year.

With the exodus of Japanese baseball star players to the majors
every offseason, Hillman believes there is a problem with how
Japanese baseball is perceived.

''Stop telling kids baseball is better in the United States,''
he said. ''Japan won the first World Baseball Classic. I've always
said this is major league baseball.''

Hillman, however, admitted that money is better in the major
leagues and said, ''If you are money-driven, you probably leave

As for a possible move back to the United States to take a
manager's job, Hillman said he would consider offers if there are
any, while expressing excitement over managing Nippon Ham.

Hillman had interviews with the Texas Rangers, Oakland Athletics
and San Diego Padres in the offseason, but will spend his fifth
season in Japan.

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