SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) — The Texas Rangers say ace Yu Darvish has no structural damage in his stiff neck but will likely begin the season on the disabled list.
Darvish was examined Wednesday by Dr. Keith Meister in Dallas. The right-hander will start a throwing program this weekend and won't need any injections.
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels says he expects Darvish will be put on the 15-day DL. The Rangers open Monday at home against Philadelphia.
"I would think so, yes," Daniels said. "That's kind of where it's headed. We're looking at 10 days already. He will play catch Saturday and if he continues to improve, then we'll put a plan together from there."
"That's going to be two weeks. He's not going to ready to break. It's a relief that's it's positive news from the exam," he said.
Darvish led the majors in strikeouts last year. With him out, Tanner Scheppers will start the season opener. Scheppers will be making his first big league start after 115 relief appearances.
"Scheppers is making his first big league start on opening day," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He's profiled as a No. 1 kind of guy. The innings he pitched last year were under a lot of pressure and I think he can handle the pressure that goes along with opening day."
The Rangers said Nick Martinez will be their No. 5 starter to begin the season. He has pitched in just five games above Class A.
Martin Perez will start the second game and Robbie Ross the third and Joe Saunders the fourth, giving the Rangers four left-handers to start the season. None of the five was in the Texas rotation to start last year.
Martinez, a right-hander, was not even in the big league camp. He finished last season 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA with Double-A Frisco. He was 12-7 with a 2.50 ERA last year between Myrtle Beach and Frisco.
"Martinez gives us an opportunity," Washington said. "He has the stuff to pitch at the major league level. I think it's on us to make certain to keep him in the mental state that he needs to be in. I think he can go out there and hold that spot down until we get Colby (Lewis) and Harry (Matt Harrison) back."
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