ARLINGTON -- Yu Darvish is returning to the Rangers' rotation and is scheduled to start on Sunday against the Rays. Darvish opened the season on the disabled list because of stiffness in his neck, but threw 86 pitches in a bullpen session on Tuesday without any problems.
"Once his neck wasn't bothering him, we saw the same stuff we did in Arizona," manager Ron Washington said. "He didn't back up. He threw a hefty bullpen [Tuesday] and checked in today feeling good. He's ready to go."
Darvish hasn't pitched in a game since March 16. Prior to that he was enjoying a good spring and was 2-0 with a 3.68 ERA in four Cactus League starts. Opponents were hitting .250 off him and he had a 1.23 WHIP. The Rangers saw the same kind of stuff in his bullpen session on Tuesday as well as excellent command of his pitches.
"He's still as strong as an ox," Washington said. "He's still dotting up gnats flying around home plate and you know how small a gnat is. He was knocking them down with consistency."
Joe Saunders is scheduled to start on Friday against the Rays and Nick Martinez is scheduled to make his Major League debut on Saturday. After Darvish pitches on Sunday, the Rangers are planning to go with Tanner Scheppers, Martin Perez and Robbie Ross Jr. in their three-game series against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. All three will be pitching on six days rest in their second start of the season.
Darvish's first start at home will likely be on April 12 against the Astros.
Wilson throws out first pitch before Rangers game
ARLINGTON -- Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson made another appearance for the Rangers on Wednesday, throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before their game with the Phillies.
Wilson, a former Minor League infielder who was taken by the Rangers in the Minor League Rule 5 Draft from the Rockies last December, is in town because Wisconsin is in the Final Four this weekend down the street. But baseball is still in his blood even if he is going to stick with his Super Bowl-winning team in Seattle.
"Obviously, I love the game of baseball," Wilson said. "But also being around these type of people keeps me going. It keeps my mind constantly thinking about the next opportunity, about the next thing and how I can continue to improve in terms of that championship mindset."
Rangers outfield coach Gary Pettis caught the pitch from Wilson. Pettis' nephew Austin is a wide receiver for the St. Louis Rams.
Rangers still not revealing plans for Lewis
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have not revealed any decisions or plans for pitcher Colby Lewis following his 92-pitch outing for Double-A Frisco in an exhibition against Triple-A Round Rock on Tuesday.
Lewis went 5 1/3 innings, allowing five runs on ten hits with a walk and five strikeouts.
"He had a sharp breaking ball ... left some fastballs up in the zone," said manager Ron Washington on the reports he heard about the outing. "He continues to get his stamina up."
Lewis hasn't pitched in the Major Leagues since July 18, 2012 while recovering from flexor tendon surgery two years ago and hip replacement last August. He came to camp on a Minor League contract, but the Rangers have brought him along slowly.
They are running out of time. Lewis has an April 10 out in his contract and can opt for free agency if he's not added to the Major League roster. Lewis has made it clear that he is healthy and ready to pitch in the Major Leagues.
The Rangers have the option of having Lewis make one more start in the Minor Leagues. After that they have to decide if they want to put him on the Major League roster.
Washington expresses support for replay system
ARLINGTON -- Rangers manager Ron Washington won his first replay challenge in the sixth inning of Tuesday's game against the Phillies when Ben Revere was picked off second base. Washington also considered a challenge earlier in the inning when the Rangers just missed throwing out Cesar Hernandez at third base on Revere's sacrifice bunt.
Both times Washington went out to discuss the play with the umpire while waiting for a signal from the bench. The Rangers' process has advance scout Joey Prebynski watching on television in the clubhouse and he then sends word to bench coach Tim Bogar if the Rangers should challenge or not. Bogar then signals Washington on the field while he is still in discussion with the umpires.
Washington said so far the process is working for two reasons. One is the umpires are being patient in giving Washington time to decide on a challenge or not.
"The umpires are very cooperative," Washington said. "They want to get it right too."
Secondly, Washington said the Rangers are getting the information quickly from Prebynski to Bogar to the manager on the field. On Tuesday, Bogar signaled Washington not to challenge the first play, but to do so on the pickoff.
"It has been quicker than I expected," Washington said. "I expected I would have to jaw a little bit before I get the signal."
There could be a time when Prebynski is undecided and Washington said, "Then I'll go with what I feel in my gut."
Harrison begins rehab assignment
ARLINGTON -- Pitcher Matt Harrison will officially begin a 30-day rehab assignment on Thursday night when he pitches for Double-A Frisco against Northwest Arkansas. Harrison is expected to throw four innings and 65 pitches as he continues to recover from two back and one non-throwing shoulder operations from last year.
"The most important thing is to make it through healthy," Harrison said. "From that point, get my pitch-count up and have all my pitches; throw my fastball down in the zone and get my off-speed over, get back to what I know I can do. My body feels great; my arm feels good so I want to stay on the same path. It's progressing well. I feel like I'm back to my normal self."
Harrison, who needed surgery to repair a herniated disk in his lower back, will likely need to make at least four starts before he is ready to be an option at the Major League level. The earliest he is likely to return to the rotation is April 23.
Derek Holland, who had microfracture surgery on his left knee on Jan. 10, won't return until June at the earliest, threw 25 pitches off the mound on Wednesday. It was his first time throwing off the mound since the surgery. He will continue his throwing program in Surprise, Az., on Saturday.
• Infielder Adam Rosales has cleared outright waivers and accepted assignment to Triple-A Round Rock.
• Outfielder Engel Beltre, who is on the disabled list with a fractured tibia in his right leg, underwent surgery on Wednesday. Dr. Keith Meister inserted a rod to stabilize the bone.
• Adrian Beltre had the game-tying RBI in the seventh inning on Tuesday night and the game-winning hit in the ninth inning. It's the second time in three seasons that Beltre has had a game-tying hit in the seventh and the game-winning walk-off RBI in the ninth at home. He also did it on Sept. 24, 2012 against the Athletics. It has happened only five times previously in Rangers history.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.