Darvish throws to live hitters in BP, could be near rehab

Rangers right-hander pitches in session for fourth time in recovery

Darvish throws to live hitters in BP, could be near rehab

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers are enthusiastic about the way right-hander Yu Darvish is progressing, but are being increasingly careful about projecting his next step.

Darvish, recovering from Tommy John surgery, threw 45 pitches of live batting practice on Tuesday afternoon at Globe Life Park and it appeared to go well. But the Rangers are going to wait at least one more day before deciding if Darvish is ready to go on a rehab assignment.

"I like seeing him on a mound with a baseball in hand," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "The ball came out clean. His secondary stuff was good. Still, like most, if not all Tommy John pitchers, they look, search and try to find their feel for consistent secondary stuff.

"Typically that's the last thing that shows up. I'm sure he didn't feel he landed all his secondary stuff…that would be my assumption."

Darvish declined to discuss his outing, preferring to wait until at least Wednesday until any decisions are made on the next step. But if everybody is in agreement, Darvish could begin a rehab assignment as early as Sunday with Double-A Frisco. Darvish had surgery on March 17, 2015, and could return to the rotation as early as May 16 although it would depend on how the rehab assignment goes.

"The buildup…the arm strength…is still the thing," Banister said. "It's part of the process. I want him to face other hitters, but when it's appropriate. When he is ready, he is ready."

This was Darvish's fourth live batting-practice session. The hitters were Ryan Rua, Brett Nicholas and Hanser Alberto with Bryan Holaday as the catcher.

"He looked really good," Holaday said. "Each time has gotten better and better just overall. I've caught him a couple of times in the bullpen and the ball was jumping out of his hand. The velocity was great. Spinning the ball was excellent, he's got special stuff. I thought he looked awesome."

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. 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.