Texas Rangers

Derek Holland’s cockiness on mound has served him, Rangers well

There are two things Derek Holland knows for sure that have helped him get off to a good start this season.

One of them is an improved curveball. He’s not quite sure how or why it has become a better pitch for him in 2016, but it has, he said. The other, even more important factor, is his confidence on the mound.

“I’m really confident with each one of my pitches,” said Holland, who makes his fifth start Saturday against the Angels. “I’m a little more cockier on the mound. Everything is still the same, I’m just focusing better.”

Holland has struck out 17 in 23 innings, but has also walked eight, including three in his last start in Chicago.

“It’s one of the things we talk about as a staff, see who can have the least amount of walks,” he said. “We’re trying to use that every time we step out there.”

The key, he said, is to not let an inopportune walk derail his focus.

“You just got to let it go. Once it happens you have to focus on the next hitter. If I start worrying about that walk that just happened then the snowball effect comes into play and long innings and it kills everything,” he said.

Hamilton to Frisco

Josh Hamilton will begin a rehab assignment Saturday with Double A Frisco. Hamilton has been playing in extended spring games in Arizona, including going 2 for 5 with two singles Thursday. Hamilton has been on the disabled list since having knee surgery in February.

Hamilton’s return to the Rangers could come by the end of next week, depending on how quickly he’s able to hit some marks, including playing consecutive nine-inning games, and how his body reacts.

Rangers manager Jeff Banister said he’d like Hamilton to get between 35 and 45 at-bats total in extended spring games and minor league games. He’s already had about 15 ABs in Arizona, so he’s looking at 20-30 before the Rangers would return him to the 25-man roster.

Darvish ready

Yu Darvish will also begin his rehab assignment with Frisco. He’s scheduled to pitch two innings (or 30 pitches) Sunday.

“It’s just the next step I’m taking,” Darvish said. “I feel like I’m ready to go. I’ve gotten to that point now.”

Darvish said he’s not thinking about trying to work on anything specific in his first outing.

“To get the first guy out, it’s all I’m focusing on,” he said. “Every time you make the first outing of the season regardless of whether you had surgery or not you always wonder, will I get the first guy out.”

Darvish is most likely to make four to six rehab starts, which would make his return to the Rangers land between May 21-31. He said there is no set amount of rehab starts in mind.

“It’s kind of hard to give you the exact numbers I need to pitch in the game,” he said. “After each outing I’m going to talk to the coaches and manager.”

Stefan Stevenson: 817-390-7760, @StevensonFWST