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Rangers and Darvish getting 1 more opinion before likely Tommy John surgery for ace pitcher

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SURPRISE, Arizona — Yu Darvish and the Texas Rangers are waiting for a third opinion that they expect will confirm the ace pitcher needs season-ending elbow ligament-replacement surgery.

General manager Jon Daniels said Wednesday that Dr. David Altchek, the New York Mets' medical director and an expert in Tommy John surgery, recommended the procedure after examining Darvish on Tuesday.

The Rangers will have Dr. James Andrews review images of Darvish's elbow before making a final decision later this week.

"Things are likely headed down the path of surgery, no surprises, no real change there. But the final decision has not yet been made," Daniels said. "Assuming nothing, no new information comes along, which at this point I don't expect, then get the surgery and get the rehab underway."

Without a vastly different opinion from Andrews, the surgery for the 28-year-old Darvish likely will take place next week. He could be sidelined until early in the 2016 season.

An MRI Friday revealed partially torn ligaments and inflammation in Darvish's right elbow. That came a day after Darvish felt tightness in his triceps while warming up for his spring training debut, and then threw 10 of 12 pitches for strikes in his only inning before telling anyone about the discomfort.

Darvish was back in Rangers camp Wednesday, in uniform and playing catch in the outfield of one of the fields. He was throwing left-handed, something he routinely does during conditioning.

PHOTO: FILE - IN this 2015, file photo, Yu Darvish, of the Texas Rangers baseball team, poses for a photo in Surprise, Ariz. It appears the Rangers, so injury plagued a year ago, will be without staff ace Yu Darvish this season. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
FILE - IN this 2015, file photo, Yu Darvish, of the Texas Rangers baseball team, poses for a photo in Surprise, Ariz. It appears the Rangers, so injury plagued a year ago, will be without staff ace Yu Darvish this season. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

Daniels said Darvish wanted to be around his teammates, and was going to hold off on commenting publicly until after a final decision is made about the likely surgery.

"I think Yu mentally has processed that. I think he's understands completely," Daniels said. "Given the circumstances, I think he's in very good spirits, very clear headed. The best way to describe it is he understands the situation."

After seeing Darvish on Tuesday, Altchek had the same recommendation as Rangers team physician Dr. Keith Meister, who initially examined the pitcher.

There are no plans for Darvish to visit Andrews.

An All-Star in each of his three seasons since coming from Japan, Darvish started last season on the disabled list after experiencing neck stiffness in spring training. He missed only one start then, and was 10-7 with a 3.06 ERA in 22 starts and made his final appearance on Aug. 9 because of elbow inflammation.

He is 39-25 in 83 starts for the Rangers, with 680 strikeouts in 545 1-3 innings. He led the majors with 277 strikeouts in 2013.

The AL champion Rangers committed more than $107 million to acquire Japan's top pitcher. Darvish got a six-year contract guaranteeing him $56 million, and Texas had to pay a $51,703,411 posting fee to his former team, the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters.

Darvish has a base salary of $10 million this season and is owed $10 million for next year and $11.8 million for 2017. Assuming he misses this season, the only way 2017 could become a player option would be if he wins the 2016 AL Cy Young Award.

Asked about insurance to cover all or some of Darvish's contract, Daniels responded, "I would rather have Darvish than the insurance benefit."

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PHOTO: FILE - In this Feb. 22, 2015, file photo, Texas Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish throws during spring training baseball practice in Surprise, Ariz. It appears the Rangers, so injury plagued a year ago, will be without staff ace Yu Darvish this season. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
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