HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 12: Yu Darvish #11 of the Texas Rangers throws in the first inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on August 12, 2013 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
The Texas Rangers got a bit of a scare down the stretch last season when ace Yu Darvish was dealing with nerve irritation in his lower back and that affected his back and legs, but he finished the season and now appears to be on track for the start of spring training next month in Surprise, Ariz.
Darvish finished second in the AL Cy Young race behind Max Scherzer after the second-year pitcher put up a 2.83 ERA with a world-leading 277 strikeouts in more than 200 innings pitched. He became a true ace in the league, which probably has 8-10 pitchers of that quality, and now he's one.
Darvish is still in Japan where he's begun a throwing program and he expects to be ready to roll when pitchers and catchers have their first workout in Surprise on Feb. 17. The Dallas Morning News reported Darvish threw 33 pitches a few days ago — his second throwing session in a three-day span.
He told Japanese reporters, "see you at spring training," indicating he'll be ready to go in a few weeks.
That's good news for the Rangers, who need Darvish to be a horse in 2014 with the questions surrounding the starting rotation after Derek Holland's injury, Matt Harrison's rehab and Martin Perez's youth.