Yu Darvish favors a six-man rotation

Yu Darvish walks through the dugout after pitching

Yu Darvish walks through the dugout after pitching in the second inning of a spring training baseball game against the Cleveland Indians. (March 13, 2012) (Credit: Getty Images)

Yu Darvish will start Wednesday night for the Rangers, but his friend, the Yankees' Masahiro Tanaka, can only watch this week in the Bronx.

Tanaka is trying to avoid Tommy John surgery for a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow by choosing rehab instead. Darvish, however, has an idea that he believes could reduce the alarming rate of elbow injuries that have occurred during the past year in the States.

Go to a six-man rotation, just like the schedule already being used in Japan.

Last week, during the All-Star Game media session in Minneapolis, Darvish told Japanese reporters that these injuries could be prevented by having MLB teams employ six starters rather than five.

"If you really want to protect players," Darvish said, "we should add one more spot to the starting rotation."

When asked to elaborate on the subject before Monday's game against the Yankees, Darvish declined, referring back to his earlier comments during All-Star week. Darvish, 27, never made more than 28 starts in each of his seven seasons in Japan, pitching for the Nippon Ham Fighters. But after signing a six-year, $56-million contract with the Rangers, and having to adjust to a five-man rotation, Darvish has made 29 and 32 starts, respectively, in his first two full seasons.

This year, Darvish opened the season on the disabled list because of a sore neck but has made 18 starts, putting him on pace for 31. Tanaka made 18 starts before he complained of elbow pain and was diagnosed with the small ligament tear on July 10.

Darvish told the Japanese media that the four-day rest followed in the majors is "absolutely short" and even with higher pitch counts, like 140, "the inflammation of the elbow's ligaments will be mostly gone if there is six days' rest in between."

Earlier this month, when asked about the benefits of a six-man rotation, the Mets' Daisuke Matsuzaka told Newsday he believed it was not only better for a pitcher's health, but also allows them to pitch deeper into games -- and throw more pitches -- because of the extended rest. Darvish agreed.

"In my opinion," Darvish said, "pitch count is barely related to the injuries."

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