At first glance, tabbing Rangers right-hander Yu Darvish as the club's ace seems like an easy connection to make. Coming off a historic rookie campaign, Darvish (7-1) boasts a 2.97 ERA and has struck out a Major League-leading 86 batters in just 60 2/3 innings.
But if you ask the 26-year-old, he'll shy away from the label, insisting he hasn't reached that level yet.
"I only have won 20 or so games here in the big leagues," he said. "I don't think I'm at a point where you guys can compare me to the top pitchers in Major League Baseball. I'm not even at the starting point."
Rangers manager Ron Washington, for one, disagrees. Although, he surely doesn't mind the right-hander staying humble through all his successes.
"He's certainly been our ace," Washington said. "But if that's the way he feels, that's fine with me, just as long as he keeps pitching the way he has been pitching. An ace, in his mind, is somebody who has been doing it a long time. But he has been an ace here in Texas and he certainly has the stuff to be an ace."
One job of any team's No. 1 pitcher is slowing down a hot opponent and that's just what Darvish will try to accomplish Tuesday when he takes the mound in Arlington against the division-rival A's, who have run four straight.
"I think the Oakland Athletics are a great team and I still have to study a lot and look at videos and make adjustments when I face them in a game situation," Darvish said. "They're a really good team and I just have to pitch my game."
Toeing the rubber for the A's will be Dan Straily, who was recalled from Triple-A Sacramento on May 1 for his third stint with Oakland and is 0-2 with a 7.98 ERA in three starts since then. He's struck out 10 in 14 2/3 innings, but he has also walked 11.
"Sometimes it's a mental process as much as anything," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "You just want good, positive thoughts leading up [to the game]. More than anything, I think it'll be about him just rolling off a couple of good outings, because obviously the stuff is there. He's got swing-and-miss stuff. It's just getting on a consistent roll here, and we're always encouraged that will be the case with him."
Even though his most recent stay in the Majors was originally thought to be only temporary, Straily will likely be around for a while because of Brett Anderson's stress fracture in his foot.
Rangers: Pierzynski poised for return to lineup, top of depth chart
The Rangers activated catcher A.J. Pierzynski off the 15-day disabled list following Monday night's game.
The veteran has been sidelined since May 6 with a strained oblique muscle in his right rib cage, but Rangers manager Ron Washington doesn't see a need to be extra careful with him following the injury.
"That injury is something that he done had and it just flared," Washington said. "I thought he was being used carefully before we decided that we had to put him on the DL."
Even though Geovany Soto had been doing most of the catching while Pierzynski was out, Washington added that Pierzynski will resume his role as the Rangers No. 1 catcher once he is activated.
"Pierzynski is my starter," Washington said. "I'm going to give Soto playing time, but it's not going to be where I'm sitting here mapping it out. I'm going to go with my gut on that. He'll get [a start] once or twice a week."
In 26 games this season, Pierzynski is hitting .263 with four homers and 11 RBIs.
A's: Jaso still suffering from shin injury
Five days have passed since John Jaso was last seen behind the plate, but the club is hopeful he might be able to return Tuesday.
The A's catcher is still bothered by a right shin injury he sustained on a hit-by-pitch Wednesday. He started at designated hitter on Saturday and was available off the bench Monday.
"He was in the bullpen, and it bothered him some getting down," Melvin said. "I don't think his mobility was all there. Hopefully, with another day, he'll be able to catch [Tuesday]."
Jaso is batting .279 when catching and has a .195 average as the DH this season.
• The A's last 13 home runs have come with the bases empty, tying a franchise record set in 2007. Their last multi-run homer came on May 5.
• A limited amount of tickets remain for the final two games between the Rangers and A's in Arlington. As of Monday evening, 5,500 reserved seats were still available for Tuesday's matchup, while 6,500 reserved seats are up for grabs for Wednesday's matinee. The Rangers rank fourth in the Majors in attendance trailing only the Dodgers, Giants and Cardinals.
Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.