Darvish did come back to Surprise on Wednesday, but wearing a different uniform. He was on the mound for the Cubs facing his former teammates, and he gave the Rangers a healthy reminder of what they are going to be missing.
Darvish went six innings in his fourth outing of the spring and held the Rangers to one run on three hits in Texas' 5-1 loss. He did not walk a batter and struck out seven. The Rangers' only run off him was a home run by catcher Juan Centeno in the third.
"I drove myself here today, and as I got closer to the stadium, it was nice seeing the scenery that I'm used to watching," Darvish said.
The Rangers, despite losing their fourth straight, were still glad to get a chance to see their former teammate, even if Darvish was too busy pitching to do much socializing.
"As a teammate, he was good," Andrus said. "He was amazing. He was great. I had a really good relationship with him. I can call him, I can text him and joke around with him. I really love that guy and hope he has a great season."
Outfielder Shin-Soo Choo said he and Darvish had a special connection because of their Asian heritage. Choo is from South Korea and Darvish is from Japan.
"Something people just don't know is how hard it is to play in a different country," Choo said. "How difficult it is. But we were always talking and having a good time. I learned a lot of Japanese history from him, and he learned about Korea, too. I like him a lot. I'm happy he gets to play for a great team."
Darvish did allow himself to tip his cap to manager Jeff Banister and the Rangers' dugout while going to the mound in the bottom of the first. Banister returned the gesture when Darvish left the game.
"I love Darvish," Banister said. "The guy did special things for the Rangers and for me as manager. There is mutual respect."
Darvish pitched for the Rangers from 2012 until the July 31 Trade Deadline last year when he was traded to the Dodgers for outfielder Willie Calhoun, infielder Brendon Davis and pitcher A.J. Alexy.
Darvish became a free agent after the season, and the Rangers never made a serious run at him. Instead, they traded for Matt Moore and signed free agents Doug Fister and Mike Minor to fill out their rotation.
At one point, Darvish had dinner with general manager Jon Daniels, but it was more social than business. The Rangers knew early in the winter that Darvish would be beyond their financial grasp.
"I did meetings with all the teams, but it seems like the probability of going back to the Rangers seemed a little bit lower," Darvish said. "That doesn't mean that I didn't want to go back, but it was lower [chances]."
Andrus wasn't the only Ranger hoping for a Darvish reunion.
"Obviously, who wouldn't want a pitcher like that," third baseman Adrian Beltre said. "He is one of the best pitchers we've ever had, there is always a place for a pitcher like that."
It took some time for that to happen, but Darvish finally found a home on Feb. 13, agreeing to a six-year, $126 million contract with the Cubs.
"That was his decision," Beltre said. "He was a free agent. Free agency is for exploring your options and finding out what's best for you and your family. The decision was to go to Chicago, and that's his choice."