MINNEAPOLIS — Yu Darvish said on Wednesday that he is on track to start Sunday for the Texas Rangers, a day after neck stiffness forced him to be scratched from a start against the Minnesota Twins.The right-hander went through a full workout at Target Field and threw off flat ground without any lingering issues from an apparent rough night of sleep Monday night.Darvish was feeling better and had his range of motion back by late Tuesday afternoon after a precautionary MRI exam that showed nothing troubling. “He’s on schedule for Sunday,” manager Ron Washington said. “There’s one thing about Yu Darvish: If he’s not 100 percent, he’ll let us know.”The Rangers, especially those who have tried to pitch with neck stiffness, didn’t question the severity of Darvish’s second bout with neck stiffness this year. No player on the team understands his body batter than Darivsh, pitching coach Mike Maddux said.Maddux said that he had to be scratched twice during his career with a stiff neck.“You just can’t throw,” he said.Darvish didn’t address the media about his injury, even though every other injured Rangers player this season, including first baseman Prince Fielder, has fielded questions about their health.Washington said that the Rangers aren’t too preoccupied about this neck troubles going forward.“There’s one thing about Yu Darvish: If he’s not 100 percent, he’ll let us know,” Washington said. “Yu Darvish is just a different animal. He doesn’t want to have a reason why he didn’t do well.”Holland still workingLeft-hander Derek Holland went though an extensive on-field workout, which included agility drills and pitchers fielding practice, as the Rangers tested the status of his injured left knee.Holland admitted that there is still some work to do before he is allowed to head out on a rehab assignment. He hopes to be cleared after two more weeks.“Everything was much more improved,” Holland said. “The next step is still up to them. I don’t have a say. There’s still some things that we have to take care of. This is coming from me, but I’m hoping after this road trip and the next homestand I can get out of here. I’m trying to push for sooner.”Of the difficulties Holland is still facing, one is fielding bunts to third base and another is pushing off his left leg when making throws to the bases. He is having not trouble pushing off while pitching, and he continues to throw bullpen sessions.“Unbeknownst to him, he’s not pushing off it,” said Washington, who monitored the fielding drills. “He’s just got to keep working until he gets used to the new leg. He’s got the strength. What we’ve got to do now is get him with the proper mobility.”Poreda optionedLeft-hander Aaron Poreda had done all that the Rangers asked him to do, and done it well, but he drew the short straw and was sent to Triple A Round Rock to make room for Joe Saunders to come off the disabled list.Poreda has options remaining, and that more than anything else is why he was sent down.“Those are tough moves,” Washington said. “But he understood. He’s a class act.”Poreda, the hardest thrower on the pitching staff, earned his first two big-league victories since 2009 after his April promotion and leaves with a 3.38 ERA.BrieflyThe Rangers claimed right-hander Phil Irwin from Pittsburgh and optioned him to Triple A Round Rock. Irwin, 27, under went elbow surgery, though not Tommy John, in 2013 and was 1-2 with a 8.72 ERA in10 games/two starts with Triple A Indianapolis. He entered the season with a career 3.09 ERA in the minors.Eric Nadel, the Rangers’ lead radio broadcaster, returned to the booth after missing three games to tend to a personal matter.
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @JeffWilson_FWST