Yu Darvish battled hip discomfort

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Texas Rangers ace Yu Darvish told an assembled group of Japanese media on Sunday that he felt some hip discomfort earlier this offseason, but after altering his weight-lifting program he arrived in Arizona feeling healthy.

Darvish told the Japanese reporters shortly after his 34-pitch bullpen session -- his first of spring training and ninth this offseason -- that his trainer recommended he quit lifting heavy weights and that the hip felt better starting in mid-January.

Darvish said he trained mostly in Japan this offseason, but did spend some time in Hawaii and that the warm weather also helped him physically. He was given an injection right after the season for pain in his back, but reports shortly after that were that his back felt better.

Darvish, 27, was the runner-up in the AL Cy Young balloting in 2013 after going 13-9 with a 2.83 ERA in 32 starts (209 2/3 innings). He led the league with 277 strikeouts, a staggering 11.9 strikeouts per nine innings.

The two-time All-Star is slated to be the club's Opening Day pitcher on March 31 at Globe Life Park in Arlington against the Philadelphia Phillies.