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Outlook: Darvish should lead bigs in strikeouts again

Yu Darvish makes his first start of the 2014 season when he pitches for the Rangers against the Rays on Sunday at Tropicana Field. He will be opposed by Rays right-hander Alex Cobb.

Darvish hasn't pitched since March 16, and started the season on the disabled list with stiffness in his neck. He threw an 86-pitch bullpen on Tuesday and another light bullpen on Friday at Tropicana Field without any issues.

"Just like any other game in the season or Spring Training, I just have to do my job and pitch my games," Darvish said. "That's the only thing I'm concerned about."

Darvish said he doesn't have any concerns about not having pitched in a game situation in almost three weeks.

"There's no concern," he said. "What do I have to be concerned about? There have been times when I've had to throw with 45 days in between and I didn't have problems. I don't know what people are concerned about, but I certainly don't have any concerns at all."

Manager Ron Washington said Darvish won't be on any specific pitch count.

"A lot of it will depend on how Tampa Bay battles him," Washington said. "How many pitches he throws and how stressful are the innings. He's probably not going to throw 115 pitches, but he'll stay out there as long as he is effective."

Darvish is 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA in three career starts against the Rays. Yunel Escobar is 2-for-10 against him and is the only Rays player with more than one hit against Darvish.

Cobb made his first start on Tuesday against the Blue Jays and took the loss while allowing four runs in five innings. He allowed five hits, four walks and three strikeouts.

"I was less aggressive than I should have been [in my last start]," Cobb said. "That just goes to show how you feel when you're not 100 percent mechanically sound during that game, I guess, so I worked hard this past week in between starts, and I really feel like I figured some things out and will be more aggressive with my fastball.

"When they know you're not throwing your fastball, they know it's a lot easier to take those pitches [like my changeup] for balls. They're going to make you show that you can beat them with your fastball and throw your fastball in the zone. You're not going to get guys to chase very often without those."

Cobb is 1-0 with a 3.79 ERA in three career starts against the Rangers. He has two no decisions against them, but the Rays won all three games.

Rangers: Tightening up the defense
Adrian Beltre committed two errors on Friday night. It is only the 15th time in his career that he has committed two errors in one game. It came in his 2,163rd game at third base. It has happened just four times in the last seven years.

But the Rangers have been playing sloppy defense in the first few games. They had eight errors in their first four games for the first time since 1987. Manager Ron Washington said the Rangers have to "tighten up" their defense.

Rays: DeJesus ready to get back in outfield
David DeJesus could return to the outfield on Sunday. He was in Saturday's lineup at designated hitter, but said his bruised right foot felt fine. DeJesus fouled a ball off his foot in Monday's 9-2 win over the Blue Jays and hasn't played the outfield since.

"I think he'll be fine," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Just one more day to get off his feet."

Worth noting

• The Rangers optioned RHP Nick Martinez to Double-A to make room for Darvish on the roster. Martinez took a no-decision Saturday, allowing three runs over six innings in his Major League debut.

• Shin-Soo Choo is 4-for-5 with two doubles in his career against Cobb. Alex Rios is 3-for-7 and Prince Fielder is 2-for-5. Mitch Moreland is 2-for-8, but with a home run.

• The Final Four was played in Arlington on Saturday. Arlington is now the 13th city to host the Final Four and the World Series. It is the ninth city to host both events and the Super Bowl.

• St. Petersburg has never hosted a Super Bowl as the game has been played across the bay in Tampa. But Tropicana Field is one of just two facilities to host a World Series and the Final Four. The other is the Metrodome in Minneapolis, which is also the only venue to host the World Series, Super Bowl and Final Four.

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