- - Monday, February 27, 2012

SURPRISE, Ariz. — Yu Darvish faced two Texas Rangers minor leaguers in a spring training practice session Monday. On March 7, he will face big league hitters from another team for the first time.

The Rangers said Darvish will start against the San Diego Padres in Peoria, Ariz. He likely will pitch two innings in the Cactus League game.

The Rangers signed Darvish, a 25-year-old right-hander who was a dominant pitcher for seven years in Japan, to a six-year, $56 million contract Jan. 18. With the posting money, the Rangers paid more than $107 million for Darvish, who was 18-6 with a 1.44 ERA and 276 strikeouts last year with Hokkaido.

Darvish threw 34 pitches Monday to Mike Bianucci and Vince DiFazio, who have not played above Class AA. Bianucci said the two talked about going deep off Darvish in batting practice, but it did not happen.

“It would have been great to do it, but a guy with a movement like that you’re just trying to put a good swing on [the ball],” Bianucci said.

PHILLIES: Philadelphia first baseman Ryan Howard is in Baltimore to have his surgically repaired left Achilles examined. The visit wasn’t a sign of a setback on Howard’s rehabilitation.

Weekend reports indicated that Howard was wearing a bandage on his left ankle because of a seroma, an open wound at the surgical point.

Howard hit .253 last season, with 33 home runs and 116 RBI. He also scored 81 runs as the Phillies won the National League East title. Howard suffered a torn left Achilles in Game 5 of a National League Division Series against St. Louis.

REDS: Cincinnati agreed to terms on a three-year, $16.5 million contract extension with set-up man Sean Marshall, 29, who could become the closer down the road. They traded three players to the Cubs to get the left-hander in December. He’ll be the set-up man to new closer Ryan Madson this season.

ANGELS: outfielder Bobby Abreu said he’s satisfied he’ll get enough playing time after meeting with Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia. Last week, Abreu told ESPNdeportes that the Angels should trade him if he is going to sit on the bench.

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