Morning Nine from Surprise…Kasuga Matsuri

 Photos by Michael Wang…more below

 Yu Darvish pitches today while they celebrate Kasuga Matsuri, which is the Monkey Festival.

 1. Michael Young on the Rangers pitching in camp: “We’ve got really deep pitching…not like anything I have ever seen before since I’ve been here. Top to bottom, starters and bullpen, just a really talented group…a lot different from the old days.”

 2. Matt Harrison is the Rangers entrant in the MLB.Com basketball pool. He will be competing against one player from the other 29 teams. He has Kentucky bringing it home, beating Syracuse in the last game.

 3. Ron Washington on Young’s two-strike approach at the plate: “It’s as good as there is in the game. He’s been like that for many years. He waits. You talk to any hitter and you’ve got to sit back and let the ball travel to you. You can’t be as aggressive with two strikes as you can with one. You have to sit back and be able to cover the off-speed stuff. He does that well.”

 4. Elvis Andrus is hitting .471 this spring with eight hits in 17 at-bats. That ranks sixth in Spring Training for a minimum of 13 at-bats. David Murphy is ninth at .438. He is 7-for-16.

 5. Former Rangers second baseman Mark McLemore played seven years with Jamie Moyer in Baltimore and Seattle. McLemore on Moyer’s comeback with the Rockies at age 49: “It’s expected. If you know Jamie, when he got hurt a year ago, he said he was coming back and I believed him. Just knowing him, he has that kind of tenacity. You don’t last that long without that kind of work ethic, determination and tenacity. He has been hurt before and has always come back. At some point he won’t be able to do like he wants. Do I think that will be now? No.”

 6. Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine on pitchers not needing to use the windup: “Oh, remember, I worked over on the other side of the pond where starting pitchers didn’t have windups. [Hideo] Nomo pitched a no-hitter at Coors Field out of a stretch. You know? [Yu] Darvish might not pitch out of a windup [this season]. He doesn’t necessarily need it. It’s just one of those things. Just another stupid statement late at night. Somebody will say, ‘can you believe that idiot said that?”’

 7. Will Clark turns 48 today.

 8. Clark hit .308 in his five years with the Rangers. He is one of nine players who had at least 2000 plate appearances with the Rangers and hit .300 or higher. Al Oliver still leads at .319 and Josh Hamilton is second at .311. Clark is third.

 9. You in Arizona for Spring Training? Then head over to Mesa on Thursday night to Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar and Grill for Woodjock 2012. Nashville recording artists Joe Nichols and Keni Thomas, Reds’ pitcher Bronson Arroyo, former Indians’ infielder Ben Broussard, MLB.Com’s Peter Gammons, longtime MLB umpire Ed Montague,  Diamondbacks’ third base coach Matt Williams and others will all perform on stage at Woodjock 2012 to raise money for the Arizona RBI program.

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