San Diego Padres pitcher Yu Darvish said Monday he hopes his team can perform better than Shohei Ohtani's retooled Los Angeles Dodgers in the upcoming season.
The two National League West teams will open the season with a two-game series from March 20 in Seoul, where Ohtani may make his Dodgers debut amid the hype around South Korea's national hero Kim Ha Seong who plays in the Padres infield.
"Things are getting even more exciting with the Dodgers' signing of Ohtani and (Yoshinobu) Yamamoto," Darvish said at the Padres' spring training complex in Peoria, Arizona. "We want to outperform them as much as possible."
The Dodgers signed the two-way superstar and the best pitcher in Japan to blockbuster deals this offseason.
"I've never faced hitter Ohtani, but I will (this year)," Darvish said. "There will be fewer holes in their lineup. I look forward to pitching against the Dodgers."
Darvish struggled last season to an 8-10 record with a 4.56 ERA after going 16-8 in 2022. The 37-year-old will enter his 13th year in the major leagues.
Asked if he would pitch in the opening series, Darvish said, "I don't know that at all (at this point). That's a decision the manager will make."
The Padres have another Japanese pitcher on their roster in 2024 -- left-handed reliever Yuki Matsui, who saved 236 games in 10 seasons with the Rakuten Eagles.
"He likes to take on a challenge," Darvish said of Matsui. "He is willing to learn about American culture and baseball. It looks like he's having a lot of fun. He's had a positive influence on me, too."
The Padres and Dodgers are scheduled to face each other on Feb. 22 in the first spring training game for both teams.