Yu Darvish throws bullpen session

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Rangers manager Ron Washington was "very encouraged" by Yu Darvish's bullpen session Sunday, his first step in resuming a throwing program since a stiff neck kept him from pitching on Opening Day.

"The report I got was that it was just as good as it was before he got hurt," Washington said.

Darvish's neck kept him from pitching as spring training wound down, and he was put on the disabled list, retroactively, on Sunday. He is eligible to come off April 5, but the club has not decided when Darvish might return.

He hasn't faced a hitter in a game since March 16, so the team could want Darvish to pitch in some kind of simulated or minor league game before he returns, though Washington said that decision hadn't yet been made.

General manager Jon Daniels said it's possible Darvish could return without a rehab start.

Tanner Scheppers is the Rangers' scheduled Opening Day starter against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Darvish, 27, finished second in the AL Cy Young balloting last season after leading the league with 277 strikeouts in 32 starts (209 2/3 innings). He had a 2.83 ERA and 13 wins.