The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Yu Darvish's neck improving, Rangers ace will start Sunday at Washington

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MINNEAPOLIS - Yu Darvish showed up to the ballpark on Wednesday with his stiff neck feeling much better, and the Texas Rangers were able to breathe a sigh of relief knowing their Japanese ace won't have to join a long list of teammates on the disabled list.

Darvish was scratched from his start on Tuesday night because of that neck discomfort, but Rangers manager Ron Washington said before a game against the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday that the right-hander will start at Washington on Sunday.

Darvish had an MRI on Tuesday that showed there was nothing to be concerned about and he was able to get through a workout at Target Field on Wednesday with no issues.

Washington chose to just skip Darvish's turn in the rotation rather than bump him back a day or two to make sure that Darvish is as close to 100 per cent as possible before he returns to the mound.

"One thing about Yu Darvish, if he won't be 100 per cent, he'll let us know," Washington said.

Darvish is 4-2 with a 2.35 ERA, the fourth-best in the league and has 71 strikeouts in 61 1-3 innings. Darvish didn't pitch for three weeks in spring training because of a stiff neck, a condition that pushed back his first start of this season to April 6.

Washington said he wasn't sure what caused the neck pain this time, but he wasn't concerned about it becoming a nagging injury.

"Yu Darvish is a different animal," Washington said. "He just doesn't want to have any reason why he doesn't feel well. So if he doesn't feel right ... we'd much rather know he's OK. We don't want him worrying about it. So we'll hold him back until Sunday."

Outfielder Daniel Robertson is also ready to go after a scary collision last week with Alex Rios and suffering an injury to the bone around his left eye.

Robertson has been outfitted with a clear mask — much like the ones NBA players wear when they break their noses — that he will wear in the outfield to protect himself from further injury. He will have to wear the mask for four to six weeks and will use a modified batting helmet that protects the area when he's at the plate.

"It's weird wearing it. It's frustrating wearing it," Robertson said. "But for the most part, there is no limitation."

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Follow Jon Krawczynski on Twitter: http://twitter.com/APKrawczynski

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