Yu rounds into form in 4-inning rehab start

Rangers righty allows 1 hit, strikes out 4 in 54-pitch outing at Triple-A

Yu rounds into form in 4-inning rehab start

ROUND ROCK, Texas -- Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish tried to take it nice and easy in his third rehabilitation assignment on Wednesday. But, after walking the first two hitters he faced for Triple-A Round Rock, he decided he might have gone too far.

"I threw harder to get back and in the second inning, I got in balance," Darvish said. "It went much better."

Overall, Darvish appeared happy after his four-inning outing against Oklahoma City at Dell Diamond. Darvish threw 54 pitches and allowed just one hit, a home run, and two walks and struck out four. He allowed two runs, one earned, as he closes in on the 14-month mark of his Tommy John surgery, done on March 17, 2015.

His goal was to work on other pitches beside his fastball. His cut fastball, curve and sinker appeared to be high on the agenda.

"I threw some good curveballs," Darvish said. "The cutter ... I threw some good ones and some bad ones. I threw sinkers and got ground balls. That was another thing I wanted to accomplish."

His fastball topped out at 94-95 mph. Darvish can dial it up to 97-98 mph, but nice and easy was the theme of the night.

"That's the big difference," Darvish said. "I was nice and easy and throwing 94-95. I'm going to show them 97-98, but most of the time you're going to see 94-95."

The unearned run came in the first inning on a dropped fly ball, and Darvish came back to strike out the side in the second. The third might have been his best inning as he set down Oklahoma City in order on seven pitches. Rangers officials, forever after Darvish to be more economical with his pitches, are going to love reading that on the Friday scouting reports.

He allowed a home run to Corey Brown leading off the fourth but finished the night by retiring the final three hitters. Darvish decided 54 pitches was enough and declined an offer to throw more pitches in the bullpen afterward.

"Overall, it went pretty good," Darvish said.

Darvish's next start is tentatively set for Tuesday with Double-A Frisco at Midland. The target there is five innings and 75 pitches. There will be one more start after that, and then he could be an option at the Major League level.

"I feel pretty good," Darvish said. "The elbow stamina is there. I would like to work on the off-speed stuff. The most important thing is pitch count. Build up the pitch count and go more innings. That will give me more confidence."

He was asked if two more starts in the Minors will be enough.

"Everybody asks me that," Darvish said. "I'll be back in September, so it will be 20 more times."

Actually, his 30-day rehab assignment, which began on May 1, is done at the end of the month. That's time for two or three more starts, and evidence suggests that will be more than enough to be ready.

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.