Right-hander Yu Darvish was able to pitch without any hesitation Sunday night in his second rehab start for Double-A Frisco, and his next start could be for the Texas Rangers.
Darvish struck out five while allowing six hits and three runs Sunday night against Northwest Arkansas, an affiliate of the Kansas City Royals. Darvish, who went back on the disabled list with shoulder discomfort after three starts for Texas, threw 47 of 72 pitches for strikes.
"I felt better, way better than the last time I threw. ... It was a good outing overall," Darvish said through his interpreter. "The last time I was a little more hesitant. Today, I was free and throwing my arm, able to pitch without hesitation. That was the biggest difference."
The ace from Japan missed the 2015 season after Tommy John surgery. Darvish then made five rehab starts before returning to the Rangers on May 28, going 2-0 with a 2.87 ERA in three starts before the shoulder started bothering him.
Texas manager Jeff Banister has said Darvish could potentially start Saturday at the Chicago Cubs, depending on how he feels after the latest rehab outing.
Darvish last pitched for the Rangers on June 8, making an early exit against Houston after five innings. Darvish said tightness in his neck caused tightness in his shoulder, and a few days later he cut short a bullpen session because of the same symptoms. The Rangers skipped his next scheduled start, and he was put on the 15-day DL even though an MRI on his shoulder and neck showed no structural issues.
The Rangers don't have a probable starter listed for Saturday. Martin Perez pitches Friday in the next game after the break, and All-Star left-hander Cole Hamels is scheduled to start the series finale Sunday against the Cubs.
Also Sunday for the RoughRiders, reliever Keona Kela struck out two in a scoreless inning. Kela has been on the DL since late April with right elbow issues, but could get back into the Rangers bullpen in Chicago coming out of the All-Star break.
Kela appeared in his second consecutive game, and for the third time in four days.