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Posted: Wednesday September 26, 2012 6:35PM ; Updated: Wednesday September 26, 2012 8:09PM

Rangers' Darvish better, expected to start Sunday

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Yu Darvish
Rangers manager Ron Washington expects Yu Darvish to make his expected start Sunday.
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
MLB Team Page

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Yu Darvish felt much better Wednesday, a day after having to skip his scheduled start for the Texas Rangers because of neck stiffness.

Darvish even played catch in the outfield before their game against Oakland.

Manager Ron Washington said Darvish was on schedule to take his next turn in the rotation Sunday for the AL West leaders. When questioned, the manager acknowledged Darvish might pitch sooner if healthy.

"He's got to be 100 percent. If he's 100 percent before Sunday, you may see him," Washington said. "If not, then you certainly will see him Sunday."

The Rangers play their regular-season home finale Sunday against the Los Angeles Angels, which will wrap up a three-game weekend series.

In five starts since coming back from missing a start Aug. 23 with right quadriceps tightness Aug 23, Darvish is 4-0 with a 1.46 ERA. The Japanese rookie is 16-9 in 28 starts overall with a 3.90 ERA.

Washington said Darvish made it clear how he felt about missing the last start. The pitcher obviously wants to get back on the mound as soon as possible.

"No way (the neck) is going to impact him being able to pitch Sunday," Washington said. "It just made a difference in him pitching (Tuesday). Couldn't do it."

Darvish woke up with a stiff neck Tuesday, then came in for treatment early. That wasn't enough to ease the problem and the Rangers scratched Darvish about 2 1/2 hours before that night's game against second-place Oakland, which the A's won 3-2 in 10 innings.

Scott Feldman started in Darvish's place, striking out five while allowing two runs over four innings. Michael Kirkman, Koji Uehara and Alexi Ogando combined for five scoreless innings before Mark Lowe allowed a leadoff homer in the 10th.

If Darvish comes back before Sunday, the Rangers would likely just push their other starters back a day, providing extra rest before the postseason. But Washington insisted that the potential playoff rotation wouldn't factor into if Darvish pitches before earlier than his next scheduled turn in the rotation.

Pitching Sunday, though, would put Darvish in line to start any playoff opener for Texas.

"It's just a consideration," Washington said of Darvish pitching before Sunday. "That doesn't mean it's going to be acted upon."

Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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