SURPRISE, Ariz. — Yu Darvish first felt the tightness in his triceps in the bullpen, when the Rangers ace was warming up for his spring training debut. 12 pitches later, it hadn’t loosened up.
So, Darvish wound up leaving Thursday’s game against Kansas City for precautionary reasons after only one inning, long before the Royals rallied in the ninth for a 5-4 victory.
"We don’t want to risk anything at this point," Texas manager Jeff Banister said. "You want your guys to be completely honest with you with how they’re feeling."
Darvish said he didn’t consider the tightness in the bullpen to be serious, so he headed to the mound like usual. He gave up a leadoff single to Alcides Escobar before setting down the next three batters he faced, throwing 10 of his 12 pitches for strikes.
"I don’t really think it’s anything to worry about," Darvish said through a translator. "I commanded my pitches. I didn’t throw hard. I worked on my location."
Still, it was a bit disconcerting to see Darvish leave early after he missed the last seven weeks of last season with elbow inflammation. Darvish also missed the end of spring training and the first part of the regular season last year with neck stiffness.
"I’m not disappointed in anything," he said after leaving Thursday’s game.
The Royals were trailing 4-3 with two outs in the ninth when Cheslor Cuthbert hit a grounder through the left side off Rangers reliever Alec Asher to give them the win.
Kendrys Morales, signed in the offseason to give the Kansas City offense a jolt, followed up a homer in his spring debut with an RBI single. Outfield prospect Brett Eibner also went deep.
Ryan Rua hit a two-run triple and Robinson Chirinos and Carlos Peguero drove in runs for Texas.
Brian Flynn, one of several candidates for the final spot in the Royals’ talented bullpen, got the start and allowed a run on three hits over two innings.
Like fellow left-hander Brandon Finnegan, the looming question is whether Flynn will work out of the bullpen in the majors or start games in the minors.
"I’ll throw once every three weeks as a reliever. I’ll throw every day. I’ll start every five days," Flynn said. "I just want to prove something up here."
INFANTE TO PLAY
Royals second baseman Omar Infante will be the DH on Friday against Cleveland, manager Ned Yost said. He’s been out with a sore wrist. Morales is expected to start at first base to give Eric Hosmer the day off.
Royals: Top prospect Miguel Almonte allowed two runs in his only inning, though the hard-throwing RHP also struck out three. Once a top prospect in his own right, LHP Chris Dwyer followed with two scoreless innings as he comes back from a thyroid condition.
Rangers: There hasn’t been much good news from the Texas rotation this spring. Derek Holland was scratched from an intrasquad game Sunday with shoulder soreness, and Colby Lewis gave up back-to-back-to-back homers in the first inning Wednesday.
Royals: LHP Tim Collins, who left Wednesday’s game with tightness in his elbow, departed camp Thursday to have an MRI. There was no word yet on the results. … LF Alex Gordon (wrist surgery) took swings on the field for the first time this spring. He plans to hit against coaches on Friday. "He’ll do that for a couple of days and then take it on the field for a couple of days and he should be ready to go," Yost said. "He feels good."
Rangers: SS Elvis Andrus took some light batting practice Thursday as he recovers from tendinitis in his left knee. He hopes to start playing in games next week. "I don’t think missing three or four games will make much difference," he said.
Royals: RHP Yordano Ventura makes his spring debut when the Royals head to Goodyear to play the Indians. The electrifying youngster is a candidate to start on opening day.
Rangers: RHP Nick Tepesch had a miserable spring training a year ago. He hopes to get off to a better start this season when he starts against San Francisco at Surprise Stadium.