Darvish encouraged after throwing BP

His fastball impresses Rangers; mid-May return possible

Darvish encouraged after throwing BP

ARLINGTON -- Yu Darvish received glowing marks on his most recent progress report Thursday, though he wanted a day to think about his next step, which might be a start in the Minors early next week.

Darvish threw 47 pitches of batting practice hours before the Rangers hosted the Astros in the finale of a three-game series at Globe Life Park. The Texas right-hander -- who is coming back from Tommy John surgery -- reported no issues afterward, and his catcher, manager and general manager all liked what they saw.

The initial plan was for Darvish to begin a Minor League rehabilitation assignment on Tuesday at Double-A Frisco. He still might, but wanted to see how he felt on Friday before making a decision.

The alternative is another session of pitching in batting practice.

"I felt pretty good today," said Darvish, 29. "My fastball was coming out strong the way I like it.

"I feel like they made a good program for me on the rehab. Every time I make the next step I have no problem ... no pain or anything like that. So I have no fear making the next step. I just want to wait until tomorrow."

Club officials have not committed to a set number of rehab outings in the Minors.

General manager Jon Daniels said Thursday he believed a return to the big club in the middle of May was realistic, specifically pinpointing the team's six-game road trip to Oakland and Houston the week of May 16.

"We're hopeful it's on the that trip," Daniels said. "That's possible ... that's a loose target."

It's unclear how, or if, that becomes more unrealistic if Darvish decides to put off the start of Minor League rehab.

He threw the 47 pitches in three sessions -- 15, 15, 17 -- to Brett Nicholas, Bryan Holaday and Josh Hamilton.

"I think he's getting close," said Chris Gimenez, who caught the session. "I know he's getting excited. The ball is coming out of his hand unbelievably. His fastball has tremendous life to it. The balls he was throwing up in the zone had a different gear to it once it got to the last eight feet."

John Henry is a contributor for MLB.com based in Texas. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.