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Rangers 'very encouraged' by Yu Darvish's bullpen session

By Mike Axisa | Baseball Writer

Yu Darvish and his problematic neck made some progress on Sunday.
Yu Darvish and his problematic neck made some progress on Sunday. (USATSI)

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According to Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas, Rangers manager Ron Washington was "very encouraged" by Yu Darvish's bullpen session on Sunday. The team's ace is starting the season on the DL with a neck issue.

"The report I got was that it was just as good as it was before he got hurt," said Washington. It was Darvish's first throwing session since being shut down. There is not yet a firm timetable for his return.

Tests showed no structural damage in Darvish's neck after it failed to improve with treatment and rest. He missed a spring training start two weeks ago and attributed the stiffness to simply sleeping on it wrong. Darvish pitched through a nerve problem in his back last summer and the team says the two injuries are unrelated.

In 32 starts and 209 2/3 innings last season, the 27-year-old Darvish went 13-9 with a 2.83 ERA (145 ERA+) and led baseball in both strikeouts (277) and strikeout rate (11.9 K/9). That earned him a second place finish in the AL Cy Young voting.

The Rangers have lost Derek Holland (knee), Jurickson Profar (shoulder), Joe Ortiz (foot) and Geovany Soto (foot) until at least midseason. Darvish and Matt Harrison (back) are dealing with shorter term injuries.

Texas opens its season Monday at home against the Phillies. Tanner Scheppers gets the Opening Day start in place of Darvish.

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