SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers ace Yu Darvish might need season-ending Tommy John surgery after an MRI exam revealed partially torn ligaments in his troublesome right elbow.
Texas general manager Jon Daniels said Saturday that Darvish could try to pitch through the injury, rest it for up to four months or undergo surgery. Daniels said the club would get a second opinion this weekend but indicated surgery may be the preferred option.
"The concern with the first two options is, are you delaying the inevitable?" Daniels said.
Darvish, a three-time All-Star, was shut down for the final seven weeks last season with inflammation in the same elbow. He underwent an MRI exam around Thanksgiving that came back clean, and had not experienced any trouble in workouts and bullpen sessions.
He first felt tightness while warming up in the bullpen before Thursday's game against Kansas City. He throttled back to protect the elbow while throwing 12 pitches in his only inning. Afterward, Darvish said through a translator he did not think the injury was serious. He had an MRI was late Friday.
"I will be disappointed if I have to miss this season, but I want to look at all the options including getting a second opinion before I make a final decision," Darvish said in a statement Saturday. "My heart is with my teammates and our focus remains on accomplishing our goals."
Darvish will remain at camp while a second surgeon studies the MRI exam results. If surgery is required, it would likely happen in the next couple of weeks. That could give Darvish enough time to fully recover before the start of next season.
"Given the news, he's handled it extremely well," Daniels said. "He's very pragmatic about it. He's talking to the people he's close to before making a decision."
The news is a significant blow to the Rangers, who went through a devastating series of injuries last year. The club set a record for most players on a 25-man roster in a single season, and needed 40 pitchers to get through 162 games - three of them position players. The starting rotation alone required 14 different pitchers, nobody making more than 25 starts.
Darvish was limited to 22 starts between neck stiffness that caused him to miss the beginning of the season the elbow inflammation that caused him to be shut down late in the season.
He was still effective, going 10-7 with a 3.20 ERA. But he seemed to lack the same kind of life on his pitches that he had his first two years, when he was in the running for rookie of the year and then logged more than 200 innings while leading the majors in strikeouts.
"I feel bad for him. I have empathy for him," first-year Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "No doubt, there's some feeling there. You never feel good about any athlete in any sport that has some obstacles that they need to overcome."