Rangers tap Darvish for Opening Day start

AFP
Yu Darvish has made four starts in pre-season "Cactus League" games, posting a 2.84 earned run average while holding opponents to a .216 batting average (AFP Photo/Lisa Blumenfeld)

Yu Darvish has made four starts in pre-season "Cactus League" games, posting a 2.84 earned run average while holding opponents to a .216 batting average

Yu Darvish has made four starts in pre-season "Cactus League" games, posting a 2.84 earned run average while holding opponents to a .216 batting average (AFP Photo/Lisa Blumenfeld)

Los Angeles (AFP) - Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish will be the Texas Rangers' opening day starter for the Major League Baseball club, manager Jeff Banister announced Saturday.

Darvish, 30, will face the Cleveland Indians on April 3 in Arlington, Texas, becoming the Rangers ninth different opening day starter in the past nine years.

It will be the first North American opening day start for Darvish with the Rangers, although he did it five times in Japan.

He was named the opening day starter in 2014 but was sidelined by neck stiffness and began the season on the disabled list.

"We feel he is in a great place," Banister said from spring training in Surprise, Arizona. "We have one of the best pitchers in all of baseball opening the season for us. Physically and mentally, he's just in a tremendous position.

"He knows what he means to this club. You look at him and see a mentally focused and driven human being to who wants to be the best pitcher on the planet."

Darvish has made four starts in pre-season "Cactus League" games, posting a 2.84 earned run average while holding opponents to a .216 batting average.

"I've had a very good spring training," Darvish said Friday after he pitched in a minor league game and allowed one earned run in six innings. "I am confident for the season and can't wait to get started."

Darvish is heading into his first full season since undergoing Tommy John elbow ligament surgery on March 17, 2015.

In 17 starts last season, Darvish was 7-5 with a 3.41 ERA.

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