The Texas Rangers said in September that the inflammation was gone from Yu Darvish’s right elbow, but they decided to keep a ball out of his hands until a follow-up MRI came up clean.
It did Tuesday as the staff ace returned to Arlington for an exam and a visit with Dr. Keith Meister, who cleared Darvish to resume throwing. And the Rangers breathed a sigh of relief, even though they weren’t as worried about Darvish as some of their other injured players.
“Very encouraging news,” general manager Jon Daniels said.
Darvish usually doesn’t begin his off-season throwing program until December, and his other prep work hasn’t been affected. He’s on track to be a full go when pitchers and catchers have their first spring workout Feb. 21.
He’s not alone. Others who missed significant time last season, like first baseman Prince Fielder and right-hander Tanner Scheppers, are also going through their usual routines in preparation for 2015.
“It’s nice to have [Darvish] and so many of the other key guys on their normal programs at this point,” Daniels said.
Darvish’s plans call for him to stick around town for a while before heading back to Japan. He will be at Globe Life Park on Monday to begin a series of workouts, and he will also meet next week with new manager Jeff Banister.
The Rangers, meanwhile, are in a holding pattern to potentially add another Asian pitcher to the starting rotation. The club continues to await for confirmation from Major League Baseball that it has submitted the highest posting bid for Korean left-hander Hyeon-Jong Yang.
His club in the Korea Baseball Organization, the Kia Tigers, reportedly will inform MLB if it will accept the highest bid and thus open a 30-day window for the top bidder to negotiate a deal with Yang, who won the KBO equivalent of the Cy Young Award in 2014.
Minnesota has also submitted a bid.
The 26-year-old Yang, whose fastball sits from 92-95 mph, projects as a No. 4 or No. 5 starter. He would joined Darvish, lefty Derek Holland and, it appears likely, righty Colby Lewis in the rotation. Lewis’ camp and the Rangers remain optimistic that the free agent will re-sign.
The Rangers continue to seek trade partners for another rotation piece. San Diego, Cincinnati and the New York Mets have young starting pitchers who could be attractive to the Rangers.
Yang isn’t the only player of interest in Korea to the Rangers, who reportedly have signed right-hander Ross Wolf to a minor-league deal with an invitation to spring training. Wolf pitched for the Rangers in 2013, primarily as a long reliever, before pitching for the SK Wyverns of the KBO in 2014.
The Rangers also completed the sale of outfielder Jim Adduci to the Lotte Giants in Korea. The sales of left-hander Aaron Poreda and right-hander Miles Mikolas to the Yomiuri Giants in Japan were also finalized.