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Darvish slated to make debut Sunday

Darvish slated to make debut Sunday

ARLINGTON -- Yu Darvish is returning to the Rangers' rotation and is scheduled to start on Sunday against the Rays. Darvish opened the season on the disabled list because of stiffness in his neck, but threw 86 pitches in a bullpen session on Tuesday without any problems.

"Once his neck wasn't bothering him, we saw the same stuff we did in Arizona," manager Ron Washington said. "He didn't back up. He threw a hefty bullpen [Tuesday] and checked in today feeling good. He's ready to go."

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Darvish hasn't pitched in a game since March 16. Prior to that he was enjoying a good spring and was 2-0 with a 3.68 ERA in four Cactus League starts. Opponents were hitting .250 off him and he had a 1.23 WHIP. The Rangers saw the same kind of stuff in his bullpen session on Tuesday as well as excellent command of his pitches.

"He's still as strong as an ox," Washington said. "He's still dotting up gnats flying around home plate and you know how small a gnat is. He was knocking them down with consistency."

Joe Saunders is scheduled to start on Friday against the Rays and Nick Martinez is scheduled to make his Major League debut on Saturday. After Darvish pitches on Sunday, the Rangers are planning to go with Tanner Scheppers, Martin Perez and Robbie Ross Jr. in their three-game series against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. All three will be pitching on six days rest in their second start of the season.

Darvish's first start at home will likely be on April 12 against the Astros.

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.

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