- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 17, 2016

MIDLAND, Texas (AP) - Yu Darvish struck out six while throwing 47 of 68 pitches for strikes in his fourth minor league injury rehabilitation start, and he could be back in the Texas Rangers rotation by the end of the month.

Darvish pitched his scheduled five innings for Double-A Frisco on Tuesday, which was 14 months after Tommy John surgery. He limited Midland, an affiliate of the Oakland Athletics, to three singles, a walk and an unearned run.

“I feel pretty confident right now, so just keep going,” Darvish said through an interpreter.

The right-hander from Japan is expected to make at least one more rehab start for Frisco or Triple-A Round Rock. He could then possibly rejoin the Rangers and make his season debut during a three-game interleague series at home against Pittsburgh the last weekend of May.

When asked about his timetable for getting back to the Rangers, Darvish said it was hard for him to comment because that was up to the team.

“I’m just going with the schedule they gave me right now,” Darvish said. “That’s all I can say.”

Midland’s only run against Darvish came in the first inning, on a play when the pitcher had to cover the plate after a passed ball.

Darvish has a 1.29 ERA with 15 strikeouts and five walks while allowing six hits in 14 innings over four rehab starts split between Round Rock and Frisco. He has increased his pitch count each outing, from 32 on May 1 in his first start to 50, 54 and now 68. He threw two innings the first time, and has added an additional inning each start since.

Against Midland, when he threw several slow curveballs, Darvish said he was trying to pitch realistic game situations as opposed to working on anything specific.

“Working on game situations, facing hitters,” he said. “I’m still in rehab outings, still focusing on one outing each time I go out there.”

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