5/31/2014 12:03 A.M. ET
Darvish officially cleared to start Sunday
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
WASHINGTON -- Yu Darvish threw approximately 20 pitches in the bullpen on Friday and is officially ready to go on Sunday against the Nationals. Darvish was scratched from his last start on Tuesday against the Twins because of neck stiffness, but that has cleared up completely.
"He looked really good," pitching coach Mike Maddux said.
"I felt as good as the bullpen session that I had in Detroit [before the stiffness]. I had no discomfort whatsoever," Darvish said through a translator. "It is what it is, that something like this would happen. What I have to do is take better care of it and there's more information on how to treat this kind of pain, so if something like this happens, I will get the best treatment as I can."
Manager Ron Washington said he is not concerned about how long Darvish will be able to pitch on Sunday. But Darvish is the only Rangers starter to have pitched at least seven innings in a start this month. He has done it three times. No other starter has gone at least seven innings since Martin Perez's shutout against Oakland on April 23.
"When Yu Darvish takes the mound, I believe he will be out there for a long time," Washington said. "He's not going to take the mound if he feels there is an issue."
Washington trying not to overwork Soria
WASHINGTON -- Rangers manager Ron Washington did not tip his hand before Friday's game with the Nationals. Washington said he would wait and see during batting practice if closer Joakim Soria felt good enough to be available for Friday's game.
Whatever the decision, it became moot when the Rangers lost, 9-2. Had Soria pitched, it would have been just the second time in his Major League career that he did so four straight days. The other was July 27-30, 2008, when he was with the Royals.
"I think I did it in Mexico," Soria volunteered.
That was a long time ago. No matter what Soria told his manager before the game, Washington was clearly reluctant to use his closer, or any reliever, for four straight days.
"You would think that we would stay away from him, I just don't know yet," Washington said before the game. "If not, we'll see if we can match up. A lot of it has to do with his workload. Trying to predict how a ballgame will turn out is tough."
Soria had three straight save opportunities in Minnesota. He blew one on Tuesday, his first of the year, but was successful on Wednesday and Thursday. Prior to Tuesday, Soria had just two save opportunities in May. So up until the deluge in Minnesota, his workload had been relatively light for the month.
But he has also been quite effective all year, beyond the blown save on Tuesday. Soria is one of 32 pitchers with at least five saves this season. Of that group, his 0.74 WHIP is the lowest and his .157 opposing batting average is the fourth lowest.
His effectiveness and his ability to pitch over at least three straight days reinforces the Rangers confidence that Soria completely recovered from undergoing Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery in 2012.
"Oh yeah, as soon as we started in Spring Training I knew," Soria said. "I felt different. Working through all the hard work we did, I knew I was fine and my mindset is to move on now."
Scheppers struggles in third rehab assignment
WASHINGTON -- Tanner Scheppers, who is on the disabled list with inflammation in his right elbow, was roughed up on Thursday night in his third rehab assignment.
Pitching an inning for Triple-A Round Rock, Scheppers allowed four runs on four hits, including two home runs and a double. He did not walk a batter or strike anybody out while throwing 14 pitches.
"He threw strikes, maybe too many and not enough good ones," pitching coach Mike Maddux said after talking to Round Rock counterpart Brad Holman. "His stuff was fine and he threw strikes, he just didn't throw as many good ones."
Scheppers is scheduled to pitch again on Saturday. The Rangers will make a decision after that game if he needs more time on medical rehab or he is ready to come off the disabled list.
Rangers' Draft success ranks among best
WASHINGTON -- According to research by Todd Zolecki of MLB.com, the Rangers have had 46 picks from the last 10 First-Year Player Drafts reach the Major Leagues. That is tied for seventh for the most players to make it from one franchise.
The Cardinals have had the most with 56, followed by the Padres with 51, the Angels and Tigers with 50 and the Red Sox and D-backs with 49. The Rangers are tied with the Athletics and Phillies. The 2014 First-Year Player Draft starts Thursday.
Also, according to the research done on www.baseball-reference.com, the Rangers' Draft picks that have reached the Major Leagues have accrued an aggregate WAR (wins above replacement) of 56.2. That ranks 23rd among 30 franchises. The Red Sox had the highest with 142.7, followed the Braves at 133.3 and Angels at 124.4.
The top four Rangers draft picks from 2004-13 by WAR are Chris Davis (8.5), Craig Gentry (8.3), Derek Holland (7.5), Tommy Hunter (5.2) and Tanner Roark (3.3). Roark is currently with the Nationals and is scheduled to pitch against the Rangers on Sunday.
• Scott Baker, who was moved back to the bullpen after pitching five innings in a spot start on Tuesday, said he is ready if needed on Friday. But Washington said he would like to give Baker one more day.
• Holland, still recovering from left knee surgery in January, threw a bullpen session on Friday with no problems. He is still building up strength in his knee and isn't ready for a rehab assignment.
• Triple-A third-base coach Spike Owen is filling in at that role for the Rangers this weekend. Gary Pettis is away from the team to attend his son's graduation.
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.