Yu Darvish to start Opening Day

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Yu Darvish, as long as he's healthy, will start Opening Day for the Texas Rangers against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Manager Ron Washington made that proclamation after a fan asked about it at Rangers Fan Fest at Rangers Ballpark on Saturday morning.

"I think it's obvious," Washington said. "It's Darvish."

Darvish received an injection to relieve inflammation in his lower back after the season was over, but the club has received good reports and the 27-year-old is working out as normal this offseason in Japan.

Darvish is the fifth straight different pitcher to start on Opening Day after Kevin Millwood, who started four consecutive in a Rangers uniform, left Texas. He joins Scott Feldman (2010), C.J. Wilson (2011), Colby Lewis (2012) and Matt Harrison (2013) on that list.

Darvish was the runner-up in the AL Cy Young Award balloting last year after going 13-9 with a 2.83 ERA in 209 2/3 innings. He led the league with 277 strikeouts and received praise this week from Hall of Famer Greg Maddux.

"The sky is the limit for him," Maddux said. "He's got four quality pitches. He's pitched now over here for two years. Hopefully, he's a lot more relaxed and Americanized, or however you want to say it. I think if he continues to be better and wants to be better, there's no telling how well he can do."

Darvish started the Rangers' second game of the season in 2013 and had a perfect game broken up with two outs in the ninth inning in Houston. Now he gets the chance to start the first game of the season at home.