Yu Darvish to visit back specialist

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Ace right-hander Yu Darvish will not make his Opening Day start for the Texas Rangers.

Assistant general manager Thad Levine confirmed Tuesday morning that Darvish will return to Dallas to be examined by back specialist Drew Dossett on Wednesday, raising the possibility he starts the season on the disabled list.

"I knew I wasn't going to be ready for Opening Day, so I made this decision," Darvish said through an interpreter, according to the Dallas Morning News. "I didn't want to burden the team, so I made the decision now. If it was a shoulder or elbow, it would be really different. I don't know what to feel. It is what it is."

Levine said via text message that there is no timetable for Darvish's return.

"I think we are at the point where we need to start ruling things out," Levine said Tuesday, according to the Morning News.

Darvish missed his scheduled start on Friday because of neck stiffness. He said he slept on it wrong and assumed he'd be back in two or three days. But he hasn't been able to throw, and the club wants to get a look at his back to get a better idea of the situation.

For now, that leaves Martin Perez and Tanner Scheppers officially in the rotation with the season set to begin Monday against Cliff Lee and the Philadelphia Phillies at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas.

Perez made 20 starts last season and pitched in the Rangers' regular-season finale, a loss to the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 163.

Scheppers, 27, was a late-innings setup man last season. He was stretched out to start this spring so he could join the competition for the rotation and pitched well enough to earn a spot.

Darvish was runner-up for the Cy Young Award last season after leading the league in strikeouts with 277 and posting a 2.83 ERA in 209 2/3 innings. He was 13-9 after struggling to get consistent run support, losing a big league record four 1-0 games. Monday would have been his first Opening Day start in his third season with the club.

The Rangers have been hit hard by injuries all spring to nearly every position.

Starting second baseman Jurickson Profar (torn muscle in shoulder) and catcher Geovany Soto (torn meniscus) each are out 10 to 12 weeks. Left-hander  Matt Harrison won't be ready for the start of the season because of back tightness experienced earlier in camp. And shortstop Elvis Andrus has a sore shoulder and arm.

As a result, the Rangers are looking for external possibilities while continuing to evaluate internal options. The club still has to fill out the rotation and decide how to handle second base with Profar out.

As for catching depth, the Rangers agreed to terms with Chris Snyder on a minor-league deal, a source confirmed Tuesday. Snyder likely will start the season at Triple-A Round Rock.

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