Yu Darvish throws an 89-pitch bullpen session, nearing return to Rangers’ starting rotation

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Rangers ace Yu Darvish was placed on the 15-day disabled list the night before the start of the regular season with discomfort in his neck. But it looks as though he’ll only miss one turn in the rotation.

According to Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas, Darvish threw an 89-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday evening at Globe Life Park and had no issues with his neck. “We did the assimilation of probably four innings of work, getting up and down,” pitching coach Mike Maddux told Durrett. “All pitches were good. He looked very good, feels healthy.”

The Rangers will wait to see how Darvish feels Wednesday before setting up a plan for his return. He is eligible to be activated on Saturday, and a Sunday or Monday debut in Boston is a possibility.

Darvish, 27, had a stellar 2.83 ERA and an MLB-best 277 strikeouts in 209 2/3 innings last season.

Yasiel Puig was late to a workout on Monday, so Dave Roberts benched him

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Earlier, Craig wrote about how Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig is back in manager Dave Roberts’ doghouse once again. Puig didn’t slide into second base when he was caught stealing to end Saturday’s game, which irked Roberts.

Puig didn’t earn himself any brownie points on Monday as he was late to a team workout and was benched as a result, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports. Roberts said, “That was a decision he made, not me.” Roberts added that he was disappointed in Puig, though he did note that the former All-Star’s behavior has been improved for most of the season.

Puig, 26, has had a solid season, batting .259/.339/.474 with 26 home runs, 70 RBI, 66 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 554 plate appearances. While he hasn’t provided value on the same level as Justin Turner or Corey Seager, he’s been a valuable part of the lineup which makes this drama all the more unfortunate with just a week and a half before the start of the NLDS.

MLB, MLBPA grant Pirates exemption for Jung Ho Kang to participate in Dominican Winter League

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Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Pirates were granted an exemption by Major League Baseball and the players’ union which will allow infielder Jung Ho Kang to participate in the Dominican Winter League without being removed from the restricted list.

Kang, 30, has been denied a visa by the Department of State as a result of his third DUI in South Korea last September. Kang was also under investigation in 2015 for alleged sexual assault.

Kang is under contract through the end of 2018 and the Pirates have a club option for the 2019 season as well, so it makes sense they would try to get him into some type of baseball action ahead of next season. The infielder has hit .273/.355/.483 in 837 plate appearances across two seasons in the majors. As Brink notes, Kang has already arrived to the Dominican Republic and will work out with his team, Aguilas Cibaenas, ahead of the start of the season on October 20.