Gil LeBreton

August 14, 2014

Rangers’ Yu Darvish escapes worse news

The Rangers’ ace has inflammation, but nothing long-term after MRI.

In a season filled with depressing diagnoses, the word on Yu Darvish’s elbow Thursday seemed to almost need hallelujahs and trumpets.

“Yu’s MRI showed a mild elbow inflammation,” Texas Rangers vice president of communications John Blake announced.

“Dr. [Keith] Meister said there is no indication that this is a long-term situation. The timeline for his return will be determined based on Yu’s symptoms, and when the soreness subsides he can resume throwing.”

Darvish, the All-Star ace of the Rangers’ already injury-depleted pitching staff, reported that he is experiencing no pain, just discomfort.

Kind of like the Rangers’ season, in other words.

Darvish was placed on the disabled list Wednesday, which means he will miss at least two starts. The soreness in his right elbow is similar to what he experienced at the start of the 2011 season in Japan, he said, but the discomfort is noticeably milder.

“I couldn’t even play catch back then, it was so painful,” Darvish said. “I don’t feel pain right now, but I remember I had pain back then.”

The 2011 season was Darvish’s final one in Japan. Even after feeling his elbow ache on that Opening Day, he rebounded to make 28 starts, pitch 232 innings and allow opponents only a .190 batting average.

When asked Thursday whether he was concerned by this MRI diagnosis, Darvish answered, “Not too concerned. I think I could have thrown if I wanted to today. So I am just taking a precautionary measure.”

Darvish leads the pitching staff in starts (22), innings (144 1/3) and just about everything else. Well-ensconced in last place in the AL West, the Rangers don’t really need Darvish to be adding to those totals.

“Like you said, I am competitive and I want to go out there and compete,” he said. “But I’m also thinking about the long-term situation. I don’t want to go out there and risk my future.

“I don’t want my elbow to be aggravated because I went out there. So I think it’s a good decision that I’m taking right now.”

Darvish ought to know. In his third season in Major League Baseball, he has shown himself to be as attuned to his body’s stresses and strains as any pitcher the Rangers have.

Too attuned, some may ask? For a talent as valuable to the club as Darvish is, there should be no such thing as downplaying an elbow or arm concern. He’s earned the right to be pampered.

It would be folly for this year’s team to rush him back to the mound before he’s completely healthy.

What would be the point? The Rangers began the night with a 47-73 record and with 100 losses clearly within reach.

Meh. At this point of the season, after burning through 56 players and 24 trips to the disabled list, Rangers fans should be anesthetized enough that 100 defeats and finishing behind the Astros have little or no meaning.

Darvish, nevertheless, was asked Thursday whether he would consider pitching if the Rangers were still in a pennant race.

After a long pause, Darvish answered, “It’s a difficult question. I want to throw. I want to pitch. I think I could, if I pushed myself.”

But why push? At this point, don’t the Rangers get more out of measuring stand-in starter Robbie Ross’ progress than Darvish trying to win his 11th game?

(Minimal progress by Ross was noted Thursday, by the way).

For now, therefore, Darvish waits and tries to recover, the way that so many Rangers pitchers have had to this season.

His diagnosis — no pain, just discomfort — could have been much worse.

Did anybody else hear a choir and trumpets?

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