Yu Darvish returns, looks ready for season

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Yu Darvish threw in a spring game for the first time in 11 days when he pitched against the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday.

Darvish not only showed no rust from his layoff, but he appears ready for the regular season to get going. That start won't come until April 2 in Houston. He'll make one more spring start before then, but Darvish has cruised so far this spring and seems poised to improve on his impressive MLB debut season with an even better 2013.

"My pitching sequence wasn't close to what I do in the regular season, but I think I am ready to start the season now," Darvish said.

Darvish pitched five innings on Saturday, allowing two runs on three hits. Two of those hits were solo home runs, so the damage was limited. He also continued to show improved control, walking just one batter -- the opposing pitcher.

Including today, Darvish has made four starts and hasn't labored in any of them. He has allowed three runs and eight hits in 13.2 innings while striking out a team-high 15 batter. Perhaps his most impressive stat is the three walks.

In 2012, Darvish walked 89 in 191.1 innings. If he maintains his high performance level from his debut MLB season and mixes in better command and fewer walks, his 2013 could feature lower peripherals across the board with lower pitch counts that allow him to go deeper into games.

"Early last season when he was walking guys, he was worried about walking people," manager Ron Washington said. "He stopped caring about walking people and has been executing his pitches. When you do that, you keep the ball in play, and that's what he does.

"I don't think he has to make any adjustments," Washington continued. "He showed he could pitch in the majors last season."