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Opening Day looking less likely for Darvish

03/24/2014 3:16 PM

03/24/2014 3:18 PM

Yu Darvish played catch for 10 minutes Monday, but is still dealing with a stiff neck. And there seems to be a growing sentiment that Darvish likely won’t make his Opening Day start.

The Rangers don’t want to rush Darvish back and Darvish is more concerned about being available the whole season rather than Opening Day.

“If we have to move that turn back from Opening Day to a later spot, it’s not the end of the world,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “A week later, no one will remember. That’s the reality of it. My bigger concern is how we ensure that he makes 32-35 starts.”

Darvish, 27, has been dealing with a stiff neck since sleeping on it wrong last week. He was scratched from a scheduled minor league appearnce Friday and no plan has been set yet. Playing catch Monday was in a relaxed environment and involved light throwing.

Darvish is coming off a season in which he finished runner-up in the American League Cy Young vote, going 13-9 with a 2.83 ERA and a league-leading 277 strikeouts.

If Darvish doesn’t make the Opening Day start, Martin Perez would be a logical candidate. Perez entered camp as the only other known starter, coming off a breakout season in which he went 10-6 with a 3.62 ERA over 20 starts.

Perez made his last spring start Monday, throwing six innings in a minor league game. He allowed four runs on nine hits with three strikeouts in a 102-pitch outing and declared himself ready to go after perfecting a mechanical adjustment.

“It’s time to go,” Perez said.

As far as possibly being the Opening Day starter, Perez said: “I’m ready for what they say. If they give me an opportunity, I just want to do my job and not put pressure on myself. It’s the same game.”

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