SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Just as Yu Darvish was about to answer the final question from the media after his simulated game appearance on Thursday, the smoke detector sounded, cutting the session short and sending everyone fleeing from the clubhouse to escape the deafening alarm.Despite that -- and despite Darvish's rather
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Just as Yu Darvish was about to answer the final question from the media after his simulated game appearance on Thursday, the smoke detector sounded, cutting the session short and sending everyone fleeing from the clubhouse to escape the deafening alarm.
Despite that -- and despite Darvish's rather unspectacular pitching line earlier -- there were no actual emergencies on Thursday. Though he allowed three earned runs on three hits and three walks in 2 2/3 innings, simulated stats don't carry as much weight given the lack of umpires, crowds or most of the other trappings of real games.
"Overall, I can say that it was pretty good," Darvish said.
Darvish's main goal was to work on his pitch assortment in his first outing since tossing 1 2/3 scoreless innings in Sunday's spring opener. Darvish threw 37 pitches (19 strikes), compared to 51 pitches (31 strikes) on Thursday.
"I wanted to work on my slider and changeup today, which I hadn't used in my previous game," Darvish said. "I thought my changeup was pretty good today. I could tell by the reaction of the hitters. With runners on, I was also able to work on my slide step."
On a morning windy enough to blow reporters' notebooks out of the bleachers, Darvish's just being on a field facing live hitters -- even Minor Leaguers -- is still a welcome change from the last two springs. Darvish sustained a season-ending elbow injury in the first inning of the first spring game of 2015 and, following Tommy John surgery, did not pitch again for the Rangers until the last week of May '16.
"Mentally, it's better with the guys around and to be all on the same schedule," Darvish said. "It's a different environment, a different atmosphere from the game. I was just working on my stuff."
Darvish went 7-5 with a 3.41 ERA in 17 starts last season, striking out 132 batters in 100 1/3 innings. He is in the final year of a six-year contract with the Rangers.
Manager Jeff Banister said Darvish doesn't have quite as heavy a physical workload this spring given that he is not mired in an intensive rehab process, but there are other differences.
"There's a difference in the urgency though of the progression," Banister said, "because there are different marks you've got to hit, the ups and downs, number of pitches … Getting back to the competing mode sooner is a benefit for Yu."
• Right-hander Andrew Cashner, whom the Rangers consider a leading candidate to join the starting rotation but has been sidelined with soreness in his upper right biceps muscle, will also see Meister on Friday, assistant general manager Mike Daly said. Cashner, a former TCU star, has been shelved since he felt pain in a bullpen session earlier this week.
"We didn't feel any need to rush it or anything. We were able to back it off for a couple of days," Daly said. "It's just an opportunity, with it being a month until Opening Day, to have Dr. Meister get his hands on Cash, be able to talk to Cash, evaluate Cash and then we'll put the plan together after that."
• Left-handed reliever Andrew Faulkner left Wednesday's game in Tempe after only one pitch but was back to regular activities on Thursday. He said he felt lightheaded, possibly due to dehydration, on Wednesday. But he was no worse for wear on Thursday.
"[Coming out of the game] was probably the right thing to do," Faulkner said. "I came in here, worked out this morning, took it easy, but I feel good."
• Right-hander Tyson Ross (offseason shoulder surgery) continues to progress toward getting onto the mound in a game situation, Daly said. Ross was set to make 25 throws from 90 feet on Thursday as part of his rehabilitation program, which Daly said is on schedule.
"If that goes well, he'll throw a half-mound tomorrow," Daly said. "If everything checks out there as well, he'll throw a full bullpen next week. He continues to hit all his check marks."
• Closer Sam Dyson (sprained right wrist) returned to action in a simulated game on Thursday, allowing three runs (two earned) on two hits, including a homer, in one inning. He struck out one batter.
• Daly said Josh Hamilton won't return to Surprise for Spring Training. He will instead work out in Houston for the next six weeks or so following another surgery on his beleaguered left knee.
• Banister said he didn't have much of an opinion either way on the seven new rules Major League Baseball officially adopted on Thursday to speed the game up, among them no-pitch intentional walks, a time limit on managers' decisions to ask for replay challenges and the prohibition of using on-field markers to position fielders.
"I'm glad they're official. Now we can move on," Banister said. "My opinion is irrelevant, really. I just know that this is how we're going to move forward, and that's it. I don't worry about it."
According to Banister, the Rangers' positioning won't be affected by the marker rule because the club didn't rely on that method anyway.
"We have a pretty good system as to how we're able to position guys," Banister said.
Dave Sessions is a contributor to MLB.com.