Tiny elevation. Small steps.
For the Rangers on Monday, both meant big progress.
Ace pitcher Yu Darvish threw for the first time at spring training in Surprise, Arizona and, although it was only off a half-height mound, showed no ill effects from last season’s Tommy John surgery. It was his first throwing session in a downhill motion since the surgery a year ago in March, and the 17 pitches came off without a hitch.
Though they somehow managed to win the AL West without their best pitcher last season, the Rangers know their best chance to repeat is to have their workhorse No. 1 healthy and effective and back to his dominant form.
"I wanted to see how the elbow reacted going downhill," Darvish said through his Japanese interpreter. "It felt good. That’s why this was an important step for me."
Off a mound elevated only six inches, Darvish threw seven warmup pitches to catcher Chris Gimenez, then another 15 fastballs and two off-speed deliveries. The plan for him this spring is to throw every 3 to 4 days and return to the regular rotation in late May or June.
"No discomfort," Darvish said. "The ligament felt strong. I have a better ligament now."
Even at a relaxed pace from mini-elevation, the Rangers were surely holding their breath at Darvish’s debut yesterday. Now, they can exhale. But just a little.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.