SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) – Yu Darvish says he felt a little awkward facing hitters in a game-like situation for the first time this spring.

What matters is that the Texas Rangers ace felt no discomfort in his back.

Darvish threw his scheduled inning Monday to start the Rangers’ first intrasquad game of spring training. He faced four batters, striking out one while another reached on an error.

The Japanese pitcher dealt with inflammation from nerve irritation in his lower back for the final six weeks last season. He had an injection two days after the season. He was still 13-9 with a 2.93 ERA and a majors-best 277 strikeouts while finishing second in the AL Cy Young Award voting.

After saying his back isn’t 100 percent, he quickly clarified that it’s 99.99 percent.

Video from reporter Anthony Andro at Spring Training

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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