Right-hander Yu Darvish has returned to the disabled list, though this time he isn’t expected to be out of the Texas Rangers’ starting rotation for an extended period.
He hit the 15-day DL on Monday, retroactive to Thursday, with continued discomfort in his right shoulder, but MRI exams of his neck and his shoulder showed no structural damage.
General manager Jon Daniels said that because there was nothing on the MRIs, which is encouraging, team physician Dr. Keith Meister was unable to prescribe how long Darvish will be out or how long he should sit out before resuming baseball activities.
That will depend solely on how Darvish is feeling. As of Saturday, when the issues recurred, he didn’t feel well enough to pitch.
“There was no acute findings on either MRI, which is a good thing,” Daniels said. “That being said, Yu continues to have a level of discomfort in that area, so we’ve placed him on the DL to give him more time to recover.
“This is not that unusual for somebody coming back from a surgery to maybe have some discomfort in another area. We’re going to treat it cautiously, get that discomfort out of there are, and then get him back going again. All in all, it’s a good finding in that there’s no structural issue that we’re concerned about.”
Cesar Ramos started a late game Monday in place of Darvish, who had been scratched Saturday from his fourth start since returning from Tommy John surgery. Ramos is the favorite to continue filling in for Darvish, though Daniels said that matchups could dictate who pitches.
But that spot in the rotation comes back up only once more, on Saturday, before Darvish is eligible to return from the DL. He could start again as soon as June 24 against Boston following a June 23 off day.
Darvish will not have a cortisone injection because the MRIs didn’t show any area that needs an injection.
It’s up to him to let the Rangers know when he’s ready to resume throwing.
“He’ll continue to get treatment, and then we’ll go from there,” Daniels said. “It’s really based on how he’s feeling. Part of the reason we gave kind of a vague term, calling it discomfort in that area, is there’s no specific anatomical issue that he’s working on.”
Daniels without prompting said that he has no doubt that Darvish is feeling some sort of issue, in response to the doubts that were raised about Darvish’s elbow and forearm injuries late in 2014.
He said then that he would have tried to continue pitching had the team been in contention rather than wallowing in last place, a statement that caused some to question how committed he was to the team.
Darvish had an elbow injury the next spring that required Tommy John surgery.
“I don’t want any of that to get out there,” Daniels said. “He’s worked hard to get back out there. He wants to be back out there.”
Darvish first felt tightness in his shoulder Wednesday in a start against the Houston Astros. He said last week that he first noticed it in the fourth inning, and he noticeably shook out his arm after throwing a 63-mph curveball to strike out George Springer and then was visited at the mound after walking Jose Altuve.
Darvish, who is 2-0 with a 2.87 ERA, retired Carlos Correa on a deep drive to right field for the final out of the inning, but didn’t return for the sixth despite being at only 76 pitches on a night when his pitch count could go as high as 95.
He said afterward that he didn’t think the issue was serious and was planning to make his next start, and he told Japanese reporters Thursday after playing catch that he had none of the same issues.
Darvish threw 21 pitches Friday in his between-starts bullpen but felt stiffness Saturday as he played catch. He threw a handful of pitches in the bullpen as pitching coach Doug Brocail, bullpen coach Brad Holman and athletic trainer Matt Lucero watched.
The Rangers scratched Darvish shortly after their game against the Seattle Mariners started. Ramos was named the spot starter Sunday after he wasn’t needed in relief during the Rangers’ 6-4 victory.
“We definitely have comfort and confidence putting Cesar out there,” Daniels said.
Rangers at Athletics
9:05 p.m. Tuesday, FSSW