Texas' Darvish feels good after game-like action

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 24, 2014 at 5:35 pm •  Published: February 24, 2014

SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) — Yu Darvish felt a little awkward facing hitters in a game-like situation for the first time this spring.

The Texas Rangers' ace threw 13 pitches in his scheduled inning Monday in their first intrasquad game of spring training, and what mattered most is that Darvish's back felt good.

"It's been a while since I faced a hitter In a game situation," Darvish said through a translator. "I felt no pain, and no discomfort, so I feel very good about it."

The Japanese pitcher dealt with inflammation from nerve irritation in his lower back for the final six weeks last season, and still led the majors with 277 strikeouts while finishing second in the AL Cy Young Award voting. He had an injection for the problem two days after the season, then spent most of the offseason rehabbing at home.

"As far as my pitches go, there are good days and bad days, I don't think my back is still 100 percent, so a little bit inconsistent on my pitches," Darvish said, before quickly clarifying that to ease any concerns. "It's 99.9 percent right now."

Even with the back issues late last season, Darvish finished 13-9 with a 2.93 ERA over in 209 2-3 innings. He was the loser in four different 1-0 games during his second major league season.

Darvish threw seven of his 13 pitches for strikes while facing four batters. He struck out one, and the only batter that reached against him was on error when Darvish dropped a ball covering first base on a grounder to the right side.

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