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Darvish quick to issue an apology after teasing Tanaka over sign deal

SURPRISE, Arizona -- Texas Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish joked about New York Yankees rival Masahiro Tanaka, then quickly apologized to his Japanese compatriot Tuesday to make sure everyone knew he was only kidding.

The comment came when Darvish, a 27-year-old right-hander set to start his third Major League Baseball season for the Rangers, was asked about changes in the posting system for Japanese team players to sign with North American clubs.

That's when Darvish touched on the seven-year deal worth US$155 million that Tanaka signed with the Yankees last month, one that eclipsed the six-year deal worth US$56 million Darvish signed with the Rangers in January of 2012.

“I don't know all the details of the new posting system, but I think the Yankees gave him a little bit too much,” Darvish said of Tanaka.

Darvish smiled and laughed as he made the comment and when translator Kenji Nimura repeated it.

But just to be certain his humorous intent was clear, Darvish released a statement later through the Rangers.

“I am sorry if anyone took my comment seriously about Masahiro Tanaka at the press conference today,” Darvish said. “I assumed by the reaction in the room that everyone knew I was joking.”

Major League Baseball have capped the amount that its clubs must pay to Japanese teams in a posting fee for top players between Darvish's jump to North America and Tanaka's move this year.

The Rangers had to pay Darvish's former club, the Nippon Ham Fighters, a US$51.7 million posting fee just for the right to negotiate a deal.

The Yankees had only to pay a US$20 million capped fee to Tanaka's club, the Rakuten Eagles, but they were forced to compete with other clubs for Tanaka, requiring them to pay the player a hefty fee while Darvish had only one team he could talk with, the one that paid his Japanese club the biggest posting fee.

The smaller the posting fee, the more money available to the player.

Darvish also said that he thought the pioneering success of Japanese pitchers such as himself, Tanaka's Yankees teammate Hiroki Kuroda and Seattle's Hisashi Iwakuma helped scouts better evaluate Tanaka's talents.

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