Texas Rangers ace Yu Darvish was set to make his fourth Cactus League start against the Chicago Cubs on Monday but was scratched at the last minute with a stiff neck, giving way to Derek Lowe.
With today being an off-day for the Rangers, Darvish has now had two days off since that day and all appears to be well with his neck, as the second-year pitcher is set to throw a bullpen session on Thursday before the Rangers make a decision with his schedule moving forward.
The Rangers open regular-season play on March 31 against the Houston Astros, then have April 1 off before continuing the three-game set on April 2. It's unknown whether the Rangers will give Darvish or lefty Matt Harrison the Opening Night start, but tendencies and signs point toward Harrison due to his consistently good year last year and his veteran seniority over Darvish.
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"It's not a big issue. If he is fine today, then he'll do a bullpen," Washington told ESPN Dallas on Wednesday. "If that goes well, [pitching coach] Mike [Maddux] will pencil him back in the game Thursday or Friday. We'll let him pitch a couple of innings in the minors, shut him down and get him ready for his next start. A lot of it is going to depend on today. The neck wasn't that big of an issue, it was just precautionary."
Darvish has had an outstanding spring, continuing over from his final eight starts from 2012. In his three starts this spring, he's put up an ERA of 1.04 with 10 strikeouts and two walks in 8 2/3 innings.