Yu Darvish throws intrasquad inning

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Texas Rangers ace Yu Darvish threw one inning in the club's first intrasquad game of the spring Monday, his first game-like action since his 2013 season ended with pain in his lower back.

Darvish reported no issues with his back, which he said hasn't bothered him since the middle of January.

"I felt no pain and no discomfort, so I feel very good about it," Darvish said through an interpreter.

The right-hander threw 13 pitches, seven of them strikes, and struck out Brent Lillibridge on a nasty slider, the only slider he threw in the session. His fastball was clocked at 94 and 95 mph.

"It's been a while since I faced a hitter in a game situation, so I felt a little bit awkward, but I think I'll get used to it little by little," Darvish said.

The 27-year-old Darvish, who was runner-up to Max Scherzer in American League Cy Young Award balloting last year, received an injection to alleviate discomfort in his back at the end of last season. He altered his offseason workout regimen, lifting fewer heavier weights, and felt fine even before arriving in Arizona.

Darvish has completed all of his live batting practice sessions with no issues. His next start comes Thursday in the Rangers' Cactus League opener against the Kansas City Royals.