2/17/2013 6:31 P.M. ET
Soto may become Darvish's personal catcher
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Yu Darvish threw 27 pitches of live batting practice on Sunday with Geovany Soto behind the plate. Darvish has thrown three bullpen sessions and Soto has caught two of them. A.J. Pierzynski caught the first one.
Washington has not committed to Soto being Darvish's personal catcher, but he does like the relationship between the two. Soto was behind the plate for Darvish's final eight starts in '12 when he went 5-1 with a 2.35 ERA.
"He was a big part of my success," Darvish said. "We had really good communication from the beginning."
The Rangers acquired Soto on July 30 from the Cubs, and pitchers had a 3.90 ERA with him behind the plate. But his work with Darvish stood out to Washington.
"We had good chemistry and an understanding of each other," Soto said. "He has great stuff and he understands baseball terms. The biggest thing I did was know when to go to the mound to get him to relax, when he needed a breather."
Harrison, Darvish both Opening Night options
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers manager Ron Washington has an idea of who his Opening Night pitcher will be -- either Matt Harrison or Yu Darvish -- but is refraining from making an announcement.
"It comes down to performance, experience, matchups...we could go either way," Washington said.
The Rangers open the season on March 31 against the Astros at 7:05 p.m. CT.
"As long as they let me pitch, I'm fine when I pitch," Darvish said. "It doesn't have any significance to me."
One clue may be that Geovany Soto will likely do much of the catching when Darvish is on the mound. That may mean that if A.J. Pierzynski is in the Opening Night lineup, Harrison will be on the mound.
Also of interest is how Washington chooses to arrange his rotation for the first week of the season. The Rangers open against the Astros on a Sunday, then are off on Monday. They play Tuesday and Wednesday, get another day off on Thursday and then face the Angels in the home opener on April 5.
That gives Washington flexibility. His Opening Night starter could pitch the home opener on four days' rest. For example, Harrison could pitch the season opener, while Darvish and Derek Holland pitch the next two games against the Astros. Then, Washington could have Harrison, Alexi Ogando and Darvish pitch the three-game series against the Angels at the Ballpark in Arlington.
That would leave Holland to pitch on Monday, April 8, against the Rays, before the Rangers finally need a fifth starter on April 9.
"We have a schedule. We just need to make sure [everything] falls into place," Washington said.
Righty Soria continues rehab, feels strong
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Reliever Joakim Soria is scheduled to throw 30 pitches off the mound in the bullpen on Monday. It will be his fourth session since coming to Spring Training, as he continues his rehabilitation program after undergoing Tommy John surgery last April.
"I'm doing very good," Soria said. "This past week, I threw 30 pitches in the bullpen, and it was perfect. No pain or soreness the next day. Everything is going good, which is nice."
This was the second time Soria has had Tommy John surgery. He missed all of the 2002 season while pitching in the Dodgers organization. Recovering from Tommy John generally takes 12 months, but the Rangers are giving him extra time because it's his second one.
Soria is still hoping to be ready by the end of May.
The Rangers signed him to a two-year contract in the winter, after he spent six years with the Royals. Texas and Kansas City share a Spring Training facility, but Soria joked that he is staying away from the other side.
"I went over there before Spring Training to see them, but now we're getting serious," Soria said. "This is my home. I have nothing to do with them. This is my new home."
• Darvish and Ogando will be the starters for the first intrasquad contest on Tuesday. The game will start at noon on Nolan Ryan Field. Harrison and Nick Tepesch will start the second intrasquad game on Wednesday, also at noon on Nolan Ryan Field.
• Third baseman Adrian Beltre finished last season with a sore right shoulder, but Washington has been watching him closely this spring. So far, there haven't been any problems, according to the manager.
"I watch him move around, taking ground balls and throwing, and he looks like he's ready to go," said Washington.
• Reliever Josh Lindblom was back in camp on Sunday after missing one day because of a family funeral.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.