Manager Hideki Kuriyama said Tuesday that all his pitchers would be available for Samurai Japan's World Baseball Classic quarterfinal against Italy, opening the door for MLB pitchers Shohei Ohtani and Yu Darvish to both take the mound.
The two right-handers threw together side-by-side in the bullpen ahead of Thursday's elimination game against the Pool A runner-up, with the winner earning a trip to the semifinals in Miami.
Ohtani is expected to start the game at Tokyo Dome. Darvish allowed three runs in three innings in last Friday's Pool B start against South Korea.
"My condition has gotten a lot better, so today was a good day," said Darvish, who had not pitched in a game all spring before the start of the tourney.
If Darvish is used in relief, it will be a little like his first WBC, when he began the 2009 tourney as a starter, but finished as the winning pitcher in that year's final as Japan's closer.
"We cannot control the results. What we can control is the process and preparation," Darvish said.
Darvish, who even before arriving at the team's camp in February spoke about players not putting excessive pressure on themselves at the tournament, has been an example of relaxed poise.
With Japan having no game Monday, he continued in that vein, by taking some of his teammates for ramen.
"When we stay in the U.S., it's difficult for us to find real Japanese ramen," he said. "I asked some of the players if they wanted to go with me. Probably, going to a ramen place together is one of the memorable times."