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Darvish Expected to Face Live Hitters

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    SURPRISE, AZ - FEBRUARY 19: Starting pitcher Yu Darvish #11 of the Texas Rangers throws during a spring training workout at Surprise Stadium on February 19, 2016 in Surprise, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

    We've been hearing all off-season and into spring training that a projected return for Yu Darvish from Tommy John surgery would be sometime in June, then it was early June. Then, Darvish conquered step after step in his rehab, looked great, felt great and got his timetable changed a bit.

    Now, it's basically a certainty that Darvish will be ready to pitch for the Rangers again in late May, barring a setback. He'll take a huge step toward that ultimate goal after a 14-month layoff on Wednesday as he's scheduled to face live hitters for the first time after getting his bullpen sessions up in the 55-60 pitch range with some consistency.

    According to The Dallas Morning News, if all goes well on Wednesday, he could begin a minor-league rehab assignment in a couple of weeks and be ready for The Show by May 20, the day the Rangers open a series against the Houston Astros.

    "It's time to turn him loose a little," pitching coach Doug Brocail told the Morning News after getting the report on Darvish's 50-pitch bullpen session Saturday. "He's out of the stable and we've got to let him run a little."

    The plan would be to give Darvish five rehab outings, ending with a six-inning affair before his season debut with the Rangers.

    "I don't feel we should go backwards," Brocail said. "It's all subject to change, but if  all goes well, we're going to try and stay on schedule."