Darvish thrilled with progress, sticking to plan

Rangers' righty on track with recovery from Tommy John surgery

Darvish thrilled with progress, sticking to plan

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish threw 35 pitches in a bullpen session Friday and was asked afterward if he could get a Major League hitter out right now.

"Easy," Darvish said with a laugh.

The Rangers are not going to let him do that just yet. He still has miles to cover before he completes his recovery from Tommy John surgery and he has not faced real hitters.

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But he is thrilled with the progress he has made since having the surgery on March 17, 2015.

"It is maybe better than what I thought it would be," Darvish said.

The Rangers' timetable is to get Darvish back by mid-May or the beginning of June. That still appears to be the plan, even though his progress has been excellent.

"Right now I am focused on the plan," Darvish said. "I'm not itchy. I'm focused on what the team has for me."

Worth noting

• Closer Shawn Tolleson needed just eight pitches to set the side down in order in a Minor League game Friday. Tolleson pitched for Triple-A Round Rock against Tacoma, striking out one and getting two ground balls to first base.

Said Tolleson, "I felt good about it. I was in the zone a lot, which I was focused on."

Jake Diekman pitched a scoreless inning in the same Minor League game. He allowed one hit and struck out one. Sam Dyson pitched one inning, allowing one run on two hits and striking out two. Diekman and Dyson both pitched Thursday so this was their back-to-back test.

• The Rangers returned left-handed hitting catcher Brett Nicholas to Minor League camp. Nicholas was 7-for-16 with two home runs in Cactus League games. Chris Gimenez, Michael McKenry and Bobby Wilson continue to compete for the backup spot behind Robinson Chirinos.

Delino DeShields, who has been sidelined with inflammation in his right biceps muscle, was 2-for-4 with a walk in the Round Rock-Tacoma game. He had one stolen base and was caught stealing once.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.