Joe Saunders will make his final start before the regular season Saturday afternoon to wrap up Big League Weekend at the Alamodome, and he expects to have more juice in his left arm.
Saunders said that he has overcome an annual spring bout with dead arm, which reared its head last weekend as he allowed nine runs (four earned) on eight hits in 1 1/3 innings against San Diego. But Saunders was in only his third week of spring camp, which is typically when his arm loses life.
He said on Friday that he got it back over the past week with some rest. He threw a bullpen session Wednesday and reported that everything was back to normal.
“I just needed to recharge the battery a little bit,” said Saunders, who is the Rangers’ No. 4 starter. “Usually, it’s third week-ish. For me, it was right on point.”
Manager Ron Washington said that the Rangers don’t have much concern about Saunders going forward.
“He’s healthy, and we believe in him,” Washington said. “I feel like when he takes the ball, he’s going to do what he’s always done: Give his team a chance to win.”
The Rangers say the earliest that Yu Darvish could pitch in a game is April 5, but they will have a more definitive plan Sunday.
The right-hander, who was scratched from his Opening Day start because of neck stiffness, will play catch Saturday at Globe Life Park and throw off flat ground Sunday under the watchful eye of pitching coach Mike Maddux.
Darvish hasn’t pitched in a game since March 16.
The Rangers claimed catcher Chris Gimenez from Oakland, a move that cost left-hander Michael Kirkman his spot on the 40-man roster.
The reliever was designated for assignment after it was determined that he wasn’t going to make the team. Kirkman is also out of options, so the Rangers would have designated him anyway.