Darvish increases velocity in 2nd rehab start

Righty shows no hesitancy with fastball, throws 30 of 50 pitches for strikes in Triple-A outing

Darvish increases velocity in 2nd rehab start

ROUND ROCK, Texas -- The number Yu Darvish wore in his rehab start for Triple-A Round Rock wasn't a familiar one Friday night, but the popping sound his pitches made was.

Darvish, making his second rehab start in his return from Tommy John surgery, allowed one run on two hits in his three innings of work while wearing jersey No. 75.

Darvish touched 97 mph several times during his 50-pitch outing, and he didn't have any of the apprehension he felt in his first rehab start Sunday for Double-A Frisco.

"After the first inning, I threw a warmup pitch and felt better than the first outing," said Darvish, who threw 30 of his pitches for strikes. "Today was much better in between innings."

Darvish, who could make his next rehab start Wednesday for Round Rock with a target of four innings or 60 pitches, struck out the first two New Orleans batters he faced in a 13-pitch first inning. He ran into trouble in the second inning after retiring the first two batters. Isaac Galloway singled to left, and former Texas catcher Tomas Telis lined an RBI double to right. Darvish then walked Matt Juengel before getting a grounder from Elliot Soto to end the inning.

Even though Darvish allowed a run in the second, he felt good about the way he pitched on a night he relied heavily on his fastball.

"Those two hits are what they are," he said. "The first hit was a single and I got a ground ball. That's what I wanted. The pitch on the double was a cutter, 94 [mph]. It was a good pitch, and he hit it, so I have to tip my hat to him."

Darvish finished his outing with a perfect third that included a called strike three to Kenny Wilson on a slider. He was still throwing his fastball at 96 in the third.

"My velocity was up, and I felt pretty good about my fastball, so I was throwing it a lot," he said. "Toward the end, I got a little bit tired because of that. I think my fastball was getting a little pop and rise movements, and my sinker was moving real good, just looking at the hitters' reactions."

As for his jersey number? Darvish, who wears No. 11 for the Rangers, said it was the jersey he had in his locker when he showed up after flying to Austin from the Metroplex on Friday. While he received a warm reception in front of a sellout crowd of 13,194 at Dell Diamond , he also had a sense of humor about his number.

"I'm No. 75, so I didn't see anyone wearing No. 75, so I'm kind of sad," he joked. "Seriously, I was very honored to be here pitching."

Darvish is still on schedule to return to the Rangers in late May or early June. While the right-hander -- who was limited to one Spring Training inning in 2015 -- is eager to return, he understands the rehab process.

"I think it's going to be two or three weeks, but I'm going to go with the team's plan," he said. "Whatever the day the team gave me as a schedule, that's when I'm coming back."

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