Updated: 03/22/2014 01:52 | By Agence France-Presse

Darvish out with stiff neck but aims for opener

Japanese star pitcher Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers missed his scheduled starting assignment Friday in a developmental-level game because of a stiff neck, the Major League Baseball club announced.

Darvish out with stiff neck but aims for opener

Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers pitches at Surprise Stadium on February 27, 2014 in Surprise, Arizona - by Mike Mcginnis

Darvish, who blamed the stiffness on a poor sleeping position two nights ago, had been expected to throw 90 pitchers.

The 27-year-old right-hander said he expects to be fine and pitch in his next scheduled start, likely next Wednesday against Seattle on the final day of Texas' pre-season training camp.

That would keep Darvish in line with the Rangers' plan to start in the team's regular-season opener against Philadelphia on March 31.

The team said the problem was not considered serious and not related to back troubles Darvish suffered last season.

Darvish went 13-9 with a 2.83 earned-run average and a major-league best 277 strikeouts over 209 2/3 innings last season. He finished second in voting for the Cy Young Award as the American League's top pitcher.

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